Archive for April, 2017

Go Forth in His Victory

Christ’s resurrection is not just something that happened in the past. There is resurrection today just as much as there was back then, after Christ’s death…

So many Christians seem exclusively concerned with the life beyond. They are under the illusion that God stays eternally in heaven. They think that we are condemned to endure the pain of suffering for the time we live on this small orb called earth. And after our life here we will be either condemned or blessed, depending on our religious belief. And so it goes on throughout the ages – and we are content to leave it at that.

But this is nothing but unbelief. If all we aspire to is to get out of this world in order to be free in the next, then we are paying tribute to sin and death. We are also showing the greatest disdain for the scriptures when we reject the joyous hope of God’s coming reign, when we simply resign ourselves to our fate on this earth, letting things continue as they are. Because our religious lives are so bankrupt, we think that God is also bankrupt and unable to accomplish his will on earth.

Tell me, which of the two are more central to the message of the Bible: our death and flight into heaven, or God’s future reign here on earth. From the first to the last chapter, the Bible deals with the coming of God into this world. There is so little about this business of dying. Every word in the Bible guarantees the deeds of God right here where I stand. Down here is where Jesus appeared, not above in the invisible world, not around the throne of God.

Here on earth is where he won the victory, and it is right here that we may find him. We should lay claim to our right on this earth – the right to victory over sin and death here on earth – not because of our faith, but because of God’s power to make things right…

Our task, therefore, is to demonstrate the power of the resurrection…This power is not so far away, because Christ is alive. He cares about the earth as much as for the heavens. Otherwise we would never know his reality. His resurrection would be history, but not a reality, and we could never conceive of anything becoming different. At best, we would think that his resurrected life was some spiritual thing that we human beings could not understand. That’s not what it is. His victory is within our reach…

Therefore we must not focus on the evils and imperfections of this world. Nor are we to try to figure out how this or that matter is going to turn out. If we try to pursue higher goals by the usual methods or even with extraordinary works of love, we will accomplish nothing for God’s kingdom. In every case where we want to help someone along, we must find our strength in Christ.

Those who think things have to be done by human ways and means are wrong (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). If that is the way we are supposed to approach our situation, we are beaten. God’s kingdom remains far off if it depends on what we do or what we may yet accomplish. Indeed, we can spoil the work that God does through us if we think it depends on our strength. If Christ is victorious, then our happiness depends upon God exercising his power, not we exercising ours (Psalm 92:4).

Our redemption, then, consists of deeds that we can do nothing to bring about. It is thus not so much a question of our wanting to be converted. The first and most important thing is that God gathers us in. On the day when we have breathed our last and stand before God, we shall be amazed at how much God has done for us and how he has used his power to save us, despite our will.

Whoever is truly in Christ experiences an abundant variety of divine powers, and is so filled with the sense of them that it is natural to live by them. Indeed, these powers of life can come to us, powers that other people would never think possible. That is what it means to be risen with Christ and to go forth in his victory.

by Christoph Blumhardt

Advertisements

Saint Lydwine of Schiedam

In 1380, Saint Lydwine was born in the small town of Schiedam in Holland. Her father was a wealthy noble named Peter, and her mother was from a poor family who worked their own farm. Her father’s family lost their fortune, and the whole family was reduced to poverty.

At that time, all of Christendom groaned under the weight and confusion of the Great Schism. At 15, while ice-skating with her friends, Lydwine broke a rib, forcing her into a bed she would never leave. She became paralyzed except for her left hand and that great pieces of her body fell off, and that blood poured from her mouth, ears, and nose.

Over the next 38 years, she would frightfully endure every known ailment of the time with the exception of leprosy. Swollen with liquids, her stomach would expand to such an extent that she appeared to be with child; intolerably sensitive, her eyes would shed blood whenever they were struck by light and transfixed by agony, she bore the side wound of Christ’s passion through the stigmata.

Although in the onset of her sickness, she was given to despair, and rejected this torrent of sufferings, she soon became inflamed with an intense love of God that no pain could extinguish. Then, crippled by the agony of her infirmities, she donned a hair shirt and took to an insufficiently thin mattress of straw strewn on the floor, to augment her already unspeakable pain.

Compensating her many sufferings, Saint Lydwine was graced with a heavily mystical spiritual life. She was often taken to the earthly paradise, and held colloquies with Our Lord, Our Lady, the angels and saints.

By the time of her death, her body bore all the repugnant signs of a lifetime of suffering. However, upon dying, she was miraculously restored to all the former youth and beauty she possessed before her illnesses. She also experienced mystical gifts, including supernatural visions of heaven, hell, purgatory, apparitions of Christ, and the stigmata. The authenticating document from Schiedam also attests that Lydwine shed skin, bones, parts of her intestines, which her parents kept in a vase and which gave off a sweet odor. These excited so much attention that Lidwina had her mother bury them.

Lydwine died at the age of 53. Her grave became a place of pilgrimage after her death and in 1434, a chapel was built over it. Thomas à Kempis’s publication caused an increase in veneration. In 1615 her relics were taken to Brussels, but in 1871 they were returned to Schiedam. On 14 March 1890, Pope Leo XIII officially canonized Lydwine. She is the patron saint of ice skaters and the chronically ill, as well as of the town of Schiedam. Her feast day occurs on 18 March, 14 April, or 14 June, depending on region and tradition.

“If anyone or anything tries to curse or kill the Goodness at the Center of all things, it will just keep coming back to life. Forever Easter.”

“If anyone or anything tries to curse or kill the Goodness at the Center of all things, it will just keep coming back to life. Forever Easter.” ~ David Housholder

#MoralStory: Under God’s Wing

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statues quely on the ground at the base of a tree.

Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast.

Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” – Psalm 91:4 

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

*

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

*

#ShortNews: Pakistan: Christian-Muslim campaign for peace

The Pakistani bishops’ conference and a Muslim organization have begun a joint campaign for peace that will last through the Easter season.

The campaign’s symbol is an olive branch, and olive trees are being planted at churches, mosques, schools, and madrasas, according to a Fides report.

“Muslim leaders are asking for olive trees to be planted in seminaries where young Muslims study and can learn to become lovers of peace,” said Father Francis Nadeem of the bishops’ National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism.

http://www.news.va/en/news/asiapakistan-christians-and-muslims-launch-joint-s

#ShortNews: Thousands entered Church in US at Easter

About one-third of the dioceses in the United States have reported the numbers of catechumens and candidates who were intending to enter the Church at the Easter Vigil.

The highest figures were supplied by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (2,694 catechumens and candidates—up from 1,638 in 2015), the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (2,375), the Diocese of Dallas (2,175), the Archdiocese of Atlanta (1,892), the Archdiocese of Newark (1,192), the Archdiocese of Washington (1,181), and the Archdiocese of Seattle (1,088).

39,721 catechumens were baptized in the United States in 2015, and an additional 71,809 candidates were received into full communion with the Church, for a total of 111,530 converts—down from 114,721 converts (44,544 catechumens and 70,117 candidates) in 2014, but up from 106,485 converts (39,654 catechumens and 66,831 candidates) in 2013.

http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-063.cfm