Easter is the feast of feasts, the unalloyed joy and gladness of all Christians.
In the very center of the Mass, the great prayer of thanksgiving, from the first words of the Preface, expresses the unrivalled motive for this joy: if it is right to praise You, Lord, at all times, how much more so should we not glorify You on this day when Christ our Passover was sacrificed, for He is the true Lamb who took away the sins of the world, who by His Death destroyed our death and by His Resurrection restored our life. Easter means, then, Redemption obtained — sin destroyed, death overcome, divine life brought back to us, the resurrection of our body which is promised immortality. With such a certitude, we should banish all trace of sadness.
As the Gospel story of Jesus’ passion unfolds today, we witness the light of the world being led from one interrogator to another and finally condemned to a cruel death, by crucifixion. Drawn like Peter, we follow him who has also befriended us so completely. We are disturbed and inspired at the same time.
Today is Ash Wednesday and Catholics throughout the world are observing this occasion by attending Ash Wednesday services at their parish and fasting, or abstaining from meat. The first reading for mass today from the book of Joel, goes right along with what we are all doing today. God called all of his people together, by asking them to stop whatever they were in the middle of doing and come to the temple, including the priests. He asks the same of us today too. Yes, there are a million other things that we need to do, or want to do, instead of going to church, but God is calling us to set these things aside in order to attend Ash Wednesday services at our parish. It isn’t a Holy Day of Obligation, but God doesn’t try to make anyone love Him either. He simply invites us to a deeper relationship with Him. It’s up to us if we accept His invitation or not.
The angel said to [the shepherds], “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:10-14
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My hidden Lord Jesus, I love You and thank You with profound gratitude for uniting Yourself with fallen humanity. When You first entered into this world, You remained hidden for nine months in the immaculate womb of Your Blessed Mother. She carried You, body and blood, soul and divinity, within the sanctuary of her body. She also carried You within her heart as a result of her perfect love for You and her perfect obedience to the will of the Father.
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, religious. She was the daughter of Andrew II, King of Hungary, and wife of Duke Louis IV of Thuringia. She is famous for her great kindness and inexhaustible charity towards the poor and the sick. November 19 is the feast day of St. Elizabeth of Hungary in the 1962 calendar.