Prayer for Wednesday within the Octave of Easter
O God, who gladden us year by year with the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection, graciously grant that by celebrating these present festivities we may merit through them to reach eternal joys. Through our Lord.
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Second Sunday of Easter (Year "A") - May 1, 2011 CHRIST'S EASTER GIFT OF FORGIVENESS [Texts: Acts 2.42-47 [Psalm 118]; 1 Peter 1.3-9; John 20.19-31]
The Christian Church celebrates the mystery of the Resurrection for the Great Fifty Days leading to Pentecost. This chronology—which separates the early Church's experience of the Risen Lord's appearances into various moments (Jesus' resurrection, His ascension and the gift of the Spirit)—owes a great deal to the schema Luke presents in Acts 1.1-2.4.
The vision of the Fourth Evangelist stresses, instead, the underlying unity of these same mysteries of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. And so, in today's gospel, John notes that on the evening of the day of His resurrection (“the first day of the week”) Jesus conferred the Spirit on the disciples (“Receive the Holy Spirit”).
With the Holy Spirit the apostles were given authority to forgive sins in Jesus' name (“If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”). In the Evangelist John's perspective, Jesus' new, risen life, the conferral of the Spirit and the proclamation and celebration of the forgiveness of sins are all intimately connected. Here, too, is the basis of designating this Second Sunday of Easter, which always features this gospel of forgiveness, as “Divine Mercy Sunday”.
The primary meaning of Jesus' charge to his disciples is that they should preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Those who heed the appeal of the Church's preaching receive assurance that their forgiveness is ratified in heaven. For those who refuse the apostolic proclamation, their sins remain unforgiven.
A secondary application of the Church's authority to forgive sins touches on the internal life of church members. When sin manifests itself in the lives of Christians following their baptismal initiation (the Easter sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist), the reconciling love of God renews the life of believers.
The Catholic Church intentionally exercises the authority Jesus manifested in his own ministry. And she has done so from New Testament times until today. Awed by the challenge Jesus gave His disciples to discern whose sins are to be forgiven and whose retained, popes and bishops—as successors to the apostles—have recognized a variety of formats to reconcile sinners.
In the Patristic Period, the Sacrament of Penance was celebrated rarely. It affected notorious sinners who were publicly reconciled after a long period of penance. In reaction to the harshness of this discipline, private and frequent confession developed and became widespread under the influence of Celtic missionaries.
Bishops and theologians at the Council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council helped the Church renew the manner of celebrating the reconciliation Jesus offers, the fruit of his death and resurrection. For the Holy Spirit helps the Church recognize whose hearts have been moved by hearing the Good News of the Kingdom to accept God's love and forgiveness.
The account of Jesus' meeting with Thomas shows how Jesus' Easter gift of forgiveness and healing can touch the life of a disciple struggling to believe. When the disciples told him of their meeting with Jesus (“We have seen the Lord”), Thomas could remember only Jesus' suffering and death (“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe”).
Jesus' challenge to believe evoked from Thomas a profound expression of faith in Jesus' identity (“My Lord and my God!”). This aspiration has found a place on the lips of Christians down the ages. Jesus' rejoinder describes the joy shared by Christians who, though they have not known Jesus in the flesh, yet believe in Him (“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”).
In the second reading, Peter tells how Christians of subsequent generations relate to Christ: “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy....”
The joy which Peter described appears as a fruit of the Spirit at work among Christians in every age. “They broke bread together at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” As in the past, the cheerful simplicity of the Jerusalem community sparks the renewal of today's Church.
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Les Jubilaires de 2011/Ottawa Priest Jubilarians
|Celebrating 25, 40, 50, 55 years of priesly service|
|Diner festif avant la messe crismale|
|The festive meal preceded Chrism Mass on April 19|
|Abbe Robert Maurice, 50 ans de sacerdoce le 10 juin|
|Father Antonio Pannunzi, OMI, 40 years a priest on December 8|
|Mgr Gerard St. Denis, 50 ans de sacerdoce le 17 juin|
|Msgr Peter Schonenbach, 40 years a priest on May 29|
|Father Dennis Hayes, CC, 25 years a priest on October 18|
|Abbe Titus Ndala, 25 ans de sacerdoce le 10 aout|