READINGS for 2008-03-22

Didache | Companion | Sabbath



“Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken…” – Isaiah 54:10
I have a confession to make. I’m an avid fan of romance — read in books, seen in movies and all else that ends “happily ever after.” Declarations of undying love such as “Better my life should be ended by their hate, than that hated life should be prolonged, to live without your love” (Romeo to Juliet) or “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” (Love Story) or even “You complete me” (Jerry Maguire) give me that warm, giddy feeling.
        I’ve since come to learn that there’s a better kind of love than the ones portrayed in our worldly realm. It’s one that is true, unconditional and perfect — the love of our heavenly Father. While these quotable romantic lines are more fiction than fact, we can rest assured that when God says, “My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken,” no other words uttered could be more real, more sincere and more true. Dina Pecaña
Scripture is filled with God’s declaration of love for His people. Take time to bask in His profound love for us.
Lord, may I always remember that although everything in this world will fade, Your love will remain constant and true until the end.


The readings for the Easter Vigil is a sort of “potted history” of the work of salvation. The Church challenges us to look at our commitment to the work of God in our lives. Will we submit our lives to Him once again as we renew our baptismal vows later in the Easter Liturgy?
Genesis 1:1-2:2 or 1:1, 26-31a (or Genesis 22:1-18 or 22:1-2, 9a, 10- 13, 15-18; Exodus 14:15-15:1; Isaiah 54:5-14; Isaiah 55:1-11; Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4; Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28)
1 In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. — 3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. — 4 God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. — 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Thus evening came, and morning followed — the first day. 6 Then God said, “Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other.” And so it happened: 7 God made the dome, and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it. 8 God called the dome “the sky.” Evening came, and morning followed — the second day. 9 Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear.” And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared. 10 God called the dry land “the earth,” and the basin of the water he called “the sea.” God saw how good it was. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it.” And so it happened: 12 the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw how good it was. 13 Evening came, and morning followed — the third day. 14 Then God said: “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, 15 and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth.” And so it happened: 16 God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night; and he made the stars. 17 God set them in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw how good it was. 19 Evening came, and morning followed — the fourth day. 20 Then God said, “Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.” And so it happened: 21 God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was, 22 and God blessed them, saying, “Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth.” 23 Evening came, and morning followed — the fifth day. 24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds.” And so it happened: 25 God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was. 26 Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.” 27 God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” 29 God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; 30 and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened. 31 God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed — the sixth day. 2: 1 Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. 2 Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.
Psalm 42:3, 5; 43:3, 4 (or Psalm 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35 or Psalm 33:4-5, 6-7, 12-13, 20-22 or Psalm 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11 or Exodus 15:1- 2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18 or Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13; Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6 or Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11 or Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6 or Psalm 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19 or Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23)
R: Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
2 [3] Athirst is my soul for God, the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God? (R) 4 [5] I went with the throng and led them in procession to the house of God, amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving, with the multitude keeping festival. (R) 43: 3 Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling-place. (R) 4 Then will I go in to the altar of God, the God of my gladness and joy; then will I give you thanks upon the harp, O God, my God! (R)
The Easter Vigil Liturgy is really a Baptismal Liturgy — a celebration of the life of the resurrection. We trace the work of God through the history of the Chosen People and then we read this baptismal text. What is the Church saying to us in this? It is presenting to us the challenge to embrace the new life baptism offers us and see that new life in the light of the work that God has done with the Jews as well as Christian history. Are you ready for this challenge?
Romans 6:3-11
3 Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. 5 For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. 7 For a dead person has been absolved from sin. 8 If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. 10 As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. 11 Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.
The resurrection is one of the most amazing and unbelievable events of history and yet we believe it is true through faith. I sometimes wonder how I would have responded as a living witness of the resurrection of Jesus 2,000 years ago and come to the conclusion that it is just as difficult to respond to the proclamation of this belief today. Each generation has its own challenges and each person their own difficulties.
Matthew 28:1-10
1 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. 3 His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. 4 The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. 5 Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” 8 Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
God’s special verse/thought for me today________________

Saint DeoGratiaS
When the Vandals conquered the city of Carthage in 439, the bishop and its priests were arrested and set to adrift at sea. This left the people with no church leader for 14 years. Emperor Valentinian of Rome asked the Vandal leader Genseric for the ordination of a bishop for the city. Saint Deogratias was chosen to lead the people in faith. He was respected by the barbarians and loved by the religious.
When Genseric brought hundreds of slaves from Africa, families were kidnapped and individually sold and separated. Bishop Deogratias acted on the matter. He sold church vessels, vestments, and ornaments in order to buy back as many slaves as he could. These families stayed in houses and churches in Carthage.
After three years of service, Saint Deogratias surrendered his body to the Lord and died in 457 A.D.
Saint nichoLaS of fLue
Nicholas of Flue was born on March 21, 1417 at Sachseln in Switzerland. His mother was a devout Christian, raising her sons to become part of the brotherhood Friends of God. So Nicholas, despite being an illiterate and a peasant, grew up to become a pious man.
Nicholas in his youth, worked as a soldier, defending women and children. He married a woman from one of the chief families in Sachseln, Dorothea Wysling, and became a father of 10 children. Years later, Nicholas held various positions in office. He served as magistrate, judge for the canton, and a deputy to Obwalden.
In 1467, with his family’s consent, Nicholas lived a life of hermitage. Nicholas lived in a town beyond the frontier. After a severe pain in his intestines, Nicholas discovered he was gifted with inedia, able to survive not on human food but solely on Holy Communion. His family begged him to move instead to Ranft, where the people built him a cell and a small chapel. He attracted spiritual students and was honored both by Swiss Protestants and Catholics for his wisdom, holiness and work to unify Switzerland.
Saint Nicholas of Flue died on March 21, 1487. He was beatified on February 1, 1649 by Pope Innocent X and canonized on May 15, 1947 by Pope Pius XII.
Saint catherine of SweDen
Born in 1331 in Sweden, Saint Catherine was the fourth child of Saint Bridget of Sweden and Ulf Gudmarsson. She had her education at the convent of Riseberg.
When she was 13, she was betrothed to a pious German noble named Eggart von Kurnen. Both took vows of chastity and continence. Before Eggart left her a widow, Catherine joined her mother in Rome. They lived a life in prayer and meditation. They worked with the poor and taught them religion.
When Saint Bridget died, Catherine brought her body back to Sweden. She buried it at the convent of the Order of the Holy Savior (Bridgettines) where she served as abbess. Before she died on March 24, 1381, Saint Catherine wrote a devotional work entitled Sielinna Troëst (Consolation of the Soul).


the niGht of niGhts!
The Easter Vigil marks the culmination of the Church’s celebration of the mystery of our salvation. We celebrate the victory of Jesus over sin and death and we pray that this victory will permeate every aspect of our lives and every corner of our universe. Nothing remains unaffected by the rising of Jesus from the dead. All creation has groaned in longing for this day and now that it has arrived, we welcome it with the greatest joy in our hearts. It all began with a seemingly insignificant birth more than 30 years previously, and seemed to come to an end with His death a few days ago on a cross on a hill just outside the walls of Jerusalem. It was an ignominious end to a spectacular ministry of miracles and words and deeds. Yet, there was still another act in the drama to be played out, one that will continue forever to surprise and delight the hearts of men and women as they realize its eternal significance in the forgiveness of their sins.
        As we listen to the Readings proclaimed in the Vigil celebration; as we take to heart the history of God’s salvific work outlined to us in bare details; as we welcome the truth of the proclamation of God’s love and interaction in the lives of His people; as we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death and as we make His victory our own, we remember, we celebrate and we believe the truth of our salvation in Christ Jesus.
        Tonight, after having reflected upon the body of Jesus lying in a tomb, we celebrate that His body is no longer there. He is risen from the dead! This is the proclamation of our faith – the tomb is empty. Jesus has conquered the grave. Our hearts rejoice in this truth and we open them to receive the grace of salvation that now freely flows from heaven to earth through the cross of Jesus; through the empty tomb and into the parched lands of our hearts and lives. Fr. Steve Tynan
Reflection Question:
Will we open our hearts to the mystery of this night and enter into it fully and without reservation? Will we open our hearts in thanksgiving to God for this wonderful gift and commit ourselves to live it to the full all the days of our lives?
Holy Spirit, help me to surrender my life to the gift of salvation offered by Jesus on the cross. I pray that I will always be faithful to living the victory over sin He offers me through my commitment to Him.
St. Lea, widow, pray for us.

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