Divine Mercy

April 3rd is Divine Mercy Sunday! God offers us a wonderful opportunity to experience his love and forgiveness, while encouraging us to heal past wounds through forgiving those who have offended us. Mercy Sunday is not only a good day to go to Confession and receive God’s mercy, but it is a day on which each of us should forgive others, abandon resentments, show charity to the poor, and to love with the affection we see in our Holy Father.

Mercy and Forgiveness

Jesus repeatedly emphasized the need for us to forgive one another. He taught us to pray in the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;” he also warned us: “for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15) while giving us a parable of the unmerciful servant who is condemned for not forgiving the small debt of his fellow servant (cf. Matthew 18:23-35).

Jesus also gives us a wonderful example from the Cross: as his persecutors taunt him he says: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). St. Stephen imitates our Lord—as should we—when he is being martyred, stoned to death for preaching Jesus Christ, Stephen “knelt down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:60).

We usually learn forgiveness as children in the home, when we see parents forgive each other after differences. Mothers repeated remind us to “say you’re sorry” after we have hurt a sibling or playmate. We also learn to forgive as we also experience forgiveness for offenses we have committed (hurting others), for quarrels that were unnecessary, as well as for injustices (unfairness and favoritism) and neglect.

“Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents. Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it” (CCC 2227).

A child finds it particularly hard to forgive when he has not experienced forgiveness at home, when he witnesses one parent holding on to past hurts, or one “punishing” him with uncontrolled and irrational bursts of anger, or by long periods of silence that may seem forever, or by constantly reminding the child of his past misdeeds.

Often such experience produces ongoing resentments that end up defining our attitude towards another person. While self-giving love, mutual affection, and service should define our relationships, how often it is the hurt feelings and resentments that take over. We must let go of these and forgive them so that we can receive God’s forgiveness for our trespasses.

Forgiveness is the best hope to receive eternal life because when we go before the Judgment Seat of God, we can say: “Lord, you promised us that you would forgive us if we forgive others, and I forgave this person… and that person…” Then we will hear his sweet words: “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2) and “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much” (Luke 7:47).

The Holy Spirit will turn injury into compassion and purify our memory so as to transform our hurt into intercession (cf. CCC 2843). Let’s take advantage of this wonderful grace.

Fr. John R. Waiss

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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Happy Easter!

Resurrection SMA Painting

Easter 2016

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Mary of the Angels,

Christ has truly risen, Alleluia!

Easter fills us with much joy, because mercy has conquered death. For love of us Jesus had died and for love for us Jesus has now risen, giving us hope that life is not only possible but is God’s merciful will: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Let us take advantage of this Jubilee Year of Mercy by accepting our Lord’s mercy, as Pope Francis writes: “Jesus, seeing the crowds of people who followed him, realized that they were tired and exhausted, lost and without a guide, and he felt deep compassion for them (cf. Mt 9:36). On the basis of this compassionate love he healed the sick… and… he satisfied the enormous crowd (cf. Mt 15:37). What moved Jesus in all of these situations was nothing other than mercy, with which he read the hearts of those he encountered and responded to their deepest need” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). Jesus wants to do the same with each one of us.

In this way Jesus mercifully approached to the two disciples who had lost hope and were returning home to Emmaus: “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). To instruct the ignorant is a wonderful work of mercy. Jesus also wants to teach us the ways of peace, mercy, and the way to eternal life so that our eyes may be opened to recognize him in the breaking of bread—in the Eucharist! (Luke 24:30-31)—and so that our hearts may be set on fire with love: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).

You are all in our prayers. Thank you for yours and for your time and financial support for St. Mary of the Angels: we are getting closer to having the resources we need to rebuild the north tower.

Have a Happy and Blessed Easter!

St. Mary of the Angels Priests, Deacon, and Staff

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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The Way of the Cross* Thirteenth & Fourteenth Stations

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Thirteenth station: They Place Jesus in Mary’s Arms

At the Cross, with John beside her, Mary is engulfed in grief. Being late, the Jews press to bury our Lord. With Pilate’s permission, that Roman law requires for convicts, a councilor named Joseph comes to Calvary. This good and upright man, native of Arimathea, hasn’t consented to their plans or actions but awaits the kingdom of God (Lk 23:50-51). Nicodemus, who first met Jesus by night, also comes bringing about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes (Jn 19:39).

These men, not known publicly as disciples of the Master, hadn’t witnessed his great miracles or his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But now, as others flee at the bad turn of events, these two fearlessly stand up for their Lord. They take down Jesus’ body and lay it in the arms of his most holy Mother, renewing her grief: Where has your Beloved gone, o fairest of women? Where has your beloved gone, and we will seek him with you? (Canticle 5:17).

The Blessed Virgin is our Mother; we wish not, we cannot, leave her alone.

4: To be faithful, be very Marian. From the Annunciation to her agony at the Cross, our Mother had no other heart, no other life, but for Jesus. A tender filial devotion to Mary will yield what you desire: loyalty and self-denial.

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Fourteenth station: They Lay Jesus in the Tomb

In an orchard near Calvary, Joseph of Arimathea had made a new tomb cut out of the rock. There, on the eve of the Jewish Passover, they lay Jesus. Joseph rolls a great stone across the grave door and departs (Mt 27:60). Jesus came into the world with nothing and with nothing, not even a place of repose, he leaves us.

Our Lord’s Mother—my Mother—and the women who followed the Master from Galilee take careful note of everything and depart. Night falls.

Everything is over; our Redemption complete, as Jesus’s death has ransomed us: Empti enim estis pretio magno—you and I have been bought at a great price! (1Cor 6:20); now we are God’s children.

Let us embrace Christ’s life and death, making them our own; dying through mortification and penance so that Christ may live in us through Love; giving our life for others in Christ’s footsteps, eager to co-redeem all souls. Only thus will we live Christ’s life, becoming one and the same with him.

1: His hidden disciples, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, use their influence on his behalf. In his lonely hour of scorn and complete abandonment, these two stand up for him audacter, boldly (Mk 15:43), with heroic courage!

With them, I too go to the Cross; on fire with love, my arms tightly embrace his cold Body, Christ’s corpse… I unnail it with reparation and mortifications… I wrap it in the new winding-sheet of my clean life, burying it in the living rock of my breast, where no one can tear it away. There, Lord, you can rest! Even if the whole world scornfully abandons you… serviam—I will serve you, Lord!

Alone before the crucifix, you may find tears welling up. Don’t restrain them… just make sure those tears lead to resolutions.

*By St. Josemaría Escrivá, Fr. John’s revised translation

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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The Way of the Cross* Twelfth Station

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Twelfth station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

The verdict is posted above the Cross: Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews (Jn 19:19) and passersby insult and jeer at him: If you are king of Israel then come down off the cross (Mt 27:42). One of the thieves comes to his defense: This man has done no evil… then humbly makes a faith-filled request of Jesus: Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. —Truly, I say to you: This day you will be with me in Paradise (Lk 23:41-43).

At the foot of the Cross stands Mary, and other holy women. Jesus looks at his Mother, then at his beloved disciple, saying: Woman, behold your son… Behold your mother (Jn 19:26-27).

The sun is extinguished, the earth darkened. Three o’clock comes and Jesus cries out: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani—My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mt 27:46). Knowing the end is near, to fulfill the Scriptures, he says: I thirst (Jn 19:28). Soaking a reed of hyssop in vinegar, the soldiers lift it to his mouth. Jesus sips the vinegar and exclaims: It is finished (Jn 19:30). The temple veil is torn and the earth trembles, as our Lord shouts out: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit (Lk 23:46), and expires.

Love sacrifice, it is a fountain of interior life; love the Cross, the altar of sacrifice; love pain, until you drink, as Christ did, the very dregs of the chalice.

1: Et inclinato capite, tradidit spiritum—and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit (Jn 19:30), his last breath. Jesus often taught his disciples: meus cibus est—my food is to do the will of him who sent me, to accomplish his work (Jn 4:34) and he did so to the end: patiently, humbly, giving everything… Oboediens usque ad mortem—he was obedient unto death, even death on a Cross (Phil 2:8)!

2: A Cross; a body nailed to wood with its side pierced… Only his Mother, a few women, and a young man remain. Where are the apostles? And those he cured—the lame, the blind, the lepers—and those who acclaimed him? Everyone shuns him, surrounding Christ in silence.

Someday you may feel the loneliness of the Cross. If so, turn to him who died and rose again. Take shelter in his wounded hands, feet, and side. This will renew your resolve to begin again, restarting your journey with more effectiveness.

5: On the Cross hangs our Lord’s now lifeless body. The people, seeing what they had done, return beating their breasts (Lk 23:48). Having repented, promise that, with Jesus’ help, you will never crucify him again. With faith, tell him over and over again: I will love you, my God: you trusted my loyalty and abandoned yourself in my arms, even when you were just a defenseless child.

Alone before the crucifix, you may find tears welling up. Don’t restrain them… just make sure those tears lead to resolutions.

*By St. Josemaría Escrivá, Fr. John’s revised translation

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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The Way of the Cross* Tenth and Eleventh Stations

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Tenth station: They Strip Jesus of His Garments

Now on Calvary, they give our Lord a narcotic of wine mixed with gall to lessen the pain of the crucifixion. In gratitude for that kindness, Jesus tastes it but declines to drink (cf. Mt 27:34), embracing death with the full freedom of Love.

The soldiers strip Christ of his garments. From the top of his head to the soles of his feet, there is nothing healthy in him: wounds and bruises and swelling sores. They are not bandaged, dressed, or anointed with oil (Is 1:6). The executioners divide his garments in four, but not his seamless cloak, saying: Let’s not tear it, but cast lots to see whose it shall be (Jn 19:24); thus Scripture is fulfilled: They divided my garments among them, and upon my vesture they cast lots (Ps 21:19).

Despoiled, stripped, in absolute poverty… our Lord has nothing but the wood of the Cross. To reach God, Christ is the way; but Christ is on the Cross, and to ascend the Cross our hearts must be free, not tied to any earthly thing.

1: From the Pretorium to Calvary, the angry crowds, soldiers, and Sanhedrin have pelted Jesus with insults, cruelty, and mockery… scorn and blasphemy—no complaints, no words of protest, not even when they rip the garments from his skin.

Foolishly, I use so many empty words to excuse myself. Resolution: to work and suffer for my Lord in silence.

2: Jesus’ lacerated body is a true portrait of sorrow… In contrast, my comfort-seeking life is filled with whims, apathy, and meanness… false compassion for my body. Lord, may your Passion and Cross strengthen me to mortify my senses and uproot everything separating me from you.

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Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

With a thief on his right and another on his left, they crucify our Lord. Jesus says: Father, forgive them; they know not what they do (Lk 23:34). Love brought Jesus to Calvary and from the Cross all his gestures and all his words are of love, a love both calm and strong. Acting as the Eternal Priest, without father or mother, without lineage (Heb 7:3), he opens his arms to all humanity.

As the hammer blows nail Jesus to the wood, the prophetic words of Holy Scripture resound: They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones; they stare and gloat over me (Ps 21:17-18). My people, what have I done to you, how have I saddened you? Answer me! (Micah 6:3).

Sorrow rends our soul, so we tell Jesus in all sincerity: I am yours, a soul dedicated to you; nailed to your Cross gladly, in the crossroads of the world, fully dedicated to you, to your glory, to the Redemption, to co-redeeming all humanity.

1: The ruthless executioners carry out the sentence, fastening Jesus to the wood. With total meekness, Jesus lets them have their way.

This torment is so unnecessary… the trials and humiliations, the mistreatment and heinous judgment, the shameful gallows, nails, lance… are all pointless. Yet he chose to suffer it all for you and me… How do we respond?

Alone before the crucifix, you may find tears welling up. Don’t restrain them… just make sure those tears lead to resolutions.

*By St. Josemaría Escrivá, Fr. John’s revised translation

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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