11 April 2010

St. Thomas & Divine Mercy

The Sunday after Pascha for Eastern Catholics and Orthodox is called Thomas Sunday and recalls the incredulity (unbelief) of the apostle when he heard that Jesus rose from the dead. Then Jesus appeared and St. Thomas thrust his hand into the wounds, convincing him of the resurrection.

For Roman Catholics today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Based on revelations given to St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, the devotion called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy was established in the Church. Her diaries are a spiritual masterpiece and reveal conversations she had with our Lord.

The icon of Divine Mercy show two rays (the water and the blood) beaming from the side of Christ. "O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You"

Hannah Whitall Smith (what, he's quoting a Quaker!) said that to "grow in grace" the soul must be planted in the very heart of divine love, "enveloped by it, steeped in it. ' (The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life, 1875)

Now, I don't think Mrs. Smith had the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in front of her, but I sure did when I read what she said. St. Thomas planted his hand literally into the heart of Divine Love! And the two rays coming from the side of Christ in the Divine Mercy image are like vines growing from Christ's Heart--vines that we are grafted on to.

See how it all ties together?

St. Thomas shows us how a true mystic acts when he became a little child and stuck his hand in the wounds of Christ. St. Faustina, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, John Wesley, Smith Wigglesworth--any of these "mystics" were simply obedient children who did what God told them. They were rooted in the Heart of Jesus, nourished by the blood and water that poured from His side.
My prayer is that we can all do the same. Plant yourself in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and grow!

03 April 2010

Lent & Holy Week recalled

What a glorious Lent and Holy Week I had. I took full advantage of East & West sharing the season.

Started out Lent with the all night vigil for the first Sunday of Lent. Went to the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts at Sacred Heart Byzantine Catholic parish. Attended a Lenten mission at a Roman parish in Ypsi that featured speakers from renewal Ministries. Went to Gorzkie Zale at St. Florian's Catholic church in Hamtramk.

Holy Week started out at my old Orthodox parish in Sylvania, Ohio for Bridegroom Matins. Holy Unction was at St. Joseph Melkite parish in lansing, MI. Holy Thursday at my home parish, Christ the King in Ann Arbor. On Holy Friday went to Greektown in Detroit for Lamentations at the tomb of Christ and the procession with the Epitaphios through the streets.

In 2011 East & West will again be celebrating at the same time. I suggest that Western Christians supplement their Lenten & Holy Week observances with some Eastern services. If you are Roman Catholic you can receive the Sacraments in any Eastern Catholic parish (Mewlkite, Ukrainian or Byzantine Greek Catholic).