Tag Archives: Holy Week

Palm Sunday

Station - Jesus in Crucified

Study: Read the Passion narrative again; put yourself in the drama of the Lord’s death. Stand with Mary at the foot of his cross.

Pray: Take time to gaze at the cross. Look beyond the art to the reality of the Lord’s passion. Dwell upon his wounds and thank him for his sacrifice.

Serve: Consider who is in need of healing in your life. Are there people who are carrying a heavy cross? Might you be like Simon of Cyrene – perhaps able to help them with a part of the load?

Palm Sunday Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

How many times throughout our lives have we made the sign of the Cross? Stop and think: at Mass; meal prayers; morning & evening prayers; special gatherings; and moments of blessing and grace. This simple action, which we teach to children at an early age, invokes a connection with the passion of Jesus.

We adorn our homes with the Cross. A crucifix is a common gift to a new home; they are placed in bedrooms and common areas as a reminder that Jesus is the source of our help and strength.

We adorn ourselves with the Cross in many ways: a crucifix on a chain; a cross in our pocket; earrings; rings; bracelets; and all the extra cards, bookmarks, figurines, and miscellaneous items that remind us that Jesus died on a Cross.

The passion we read every year on this day focuses our attention on the central mystery of our faith. Out of love for us God sent Jesus, who gave his life on the Cross that we might have eternal life. Through his suffering and death, we recognize that God has made a pathway possible that we might all journey through this life to the gates of Heaven.

The Cross teaches us many lessons:
* Life is difficult, and at times painful
* Weakness and sin are part of our experience
* God identifies with our pain
* God dies that we might have life

At the core of our teaching the Cross stands as the testament of God’s love for us. On one hand the Cross is an embarrassment – after all, why would God (all powerful, all knowing, supreme) choose to be humiliated? Does that not mean that God is weak? Why could God not take away our sins in a way that showed majesty and splendor?

Yet on the other hand, the Cross is a statement that God meets us where we are in life. In our weakness, in our humiliation, in our low moments of doubt and sin God comes to us. Jesus, like us in every way but sin, understands our pain because through his Cross he shares in the suffering of the world. He knows us, and loves us even more.

Every time we make the sign of the Cross may we recall what the Lord endured for us. May the Cross be our strength as we trust in God’s love, and may we seek to follow that love as we journey through this life toward the world to come.

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Note: this post was originally published on March 18,  2013.


Podcast Resources for a Powerful Lent

Three Great Things

There are many ways to get the most out of Lent.  This gift that the Church celebrates every year provides an opportunity for spiritual renewal.  Below you will find a short summary of some of the Homilies, Presentations and Retreats that I have offered over the last couple of years with themes that might speak to your own Lenten journey.  Feel free to try any of these podcasts; if they are helpful, you are welcome to share them with others.  After all, the purpose of the season is to draw our hearts to Jesus Christ!

Homilies

Preparing for Lent (13 Minutes) – This homily podcast offers some general helpful hints to consider as you get ready to enter into the season as a whole.  Given at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI on March 2, 2013.

Ash Wednesday (4 Minutes) – This short homily shows how messy, dirty, grimy ashes on the outside remind us of the messy, dirty, grimy reality of sin in our hearts.  As we repent and believe in the Gospel, may we call upon the Lord to wash us clean with the grace of Jesus Christ.  Given at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI on Feb. 18, 2015.  

Holy Thursday (8 Minutes) – At the Last Supper Jesus teaches and commands his disciples to receive his Body & Blood and give your life in service to others.  In our reception of Holy Communion may we be strengthened and renewed to offer our lives, following the example of Christ.  Given at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI on April 2, 2015.

Good Friday (10 Minutes) – The Cross of Christ – ugly, filthy with the blood of countless victims, jagged, and splintered – becomes the sign of the depth and breadth of agony Jesus endured.  As he embraces his suffering, the Cross becomes a bridge whereby he unites with all humanity, meeting us in our most profound moments of weakness and sin, and gives us hope through his triumph over death.  We must understand the Cross in the light of Easter joy: For if we only focus on the Cross then we have no hope – life becomes dark and filled with despair; and if we only focus on Easter joy then we have no respect for the gift of the Lord’s Passion – we do not value the price He paid for our salvation. Given at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI on April 3, 2015.

Easter (7 Minutes) – Their lives were changed; the sorrow cast from the shadow of the Cross is now transformed by resurrection glory…He’s alive!  The grace of Jesus Christ inspired the disciples to go out to the world – carrying their crosses – with the power the Lord’s triumph.  Christ brings this transformation to us today; his power continues to work in the world.  May we open our hearts to the resurrection…and be transformed!  Given at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI on April 5, 2015.

 

General Presentations

Personal Prayer: Making it Real (46 Minutes) – How do we make our personal prayer real?  This homily podcast highlights practical tips that bring power and meaning to our personal prayer. Given at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI on April 11, 2015.

Personal Healing & Renewal (44 Minutes) – The presentation explores a four step process of personal healing and renewal: Acknowledgement; Diagnosis; Prescription; and Follow through.  By examining four quadrants of human life (physical, intellectual, relational, spiritual) this presentation guides the listener toward personal growth in practical ways. Given to the Northern Waters Parish Nurse Group on October 9, 2015.

Christ Renews Our Lives! (31 Minutes) – This talk was presented to Confirmation students from the Cathedral and St. Francis Xavier parishes. Note these four points: God made us to be united with Him; Sin destroys our relationships with God and one another; Christ restores the relationship through his life, death, and resurrection; Each of us can choose to accept the gift of Christ and live as his disciple. Given at the Cathedral of Christ the King on November 11, 2015.

Extraordinary Life! (36 Minutes) – This “Theology on Tap” presentation asks some big questions:  Are you looking for some practical ways to transform your life?  Do you long for something special, filled with power, purpose, and meaning?  Fr. Andrew looks at 3 areas (Self, Others, God) and applies them to the ordinary and routine elements of daily life. Given at VIP in Superior, WI on October 22, 2015.

Prayer: Practical Pointers to Grow Closer to God (30 Minutes) – This “Theology on Tap” reflection offers some practical ways to strengthen your prayer life and grow closer to God.  Some topics include: Time, Space, Location, and Preparation; Dealing with Distraction; Using resources – including Scripture and Devotionals; Finding what works for you.  Given at Dubh Linh’s Pub in Duluth, MN on November 11, 2013.

 

Retreats

Knights of Columbus Men’s Retreat (September 13, 2014 – St. Joseph Church – Hayward, WI)  This Catholic Men’s Retreat explores three ways we draw near to Jesus Christ and one another: study, prayer, and service.

Eucharist (March 8, 2014 – St. Dominic Church – Frederic, WI) This parish retreat focuses on Eucharist as the central expression of our Catholic faith.

Christian in a Changing World (February 22-24, 2014 – Cathedral of Christ the King – Superior, WI) This parish mission looks at three key concepts: Our direction in life; our spiritual fitness; putting our faith into practice.

Walking with the Lord in Holy Week (March 9-12, 2015 – Our Lady of the Valley – Green Valley, AZ) This parish mission takes the listener on a journey with Christ – from his entry into Jerusalem, through the Last Supper, his Passion, and his Resurrection.

May this Lent be filled with grace and power – God bless you!

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Holy Week Preparations

Holy Week

Pastoral Note: This post was originally given on April 12, 2014.  I share it once again in the hope that all of us will enter more fully into the gift of this sacred time.  Fr. Andrew

Study:  Recall a time in your life when you experienced death and new life.  Where did you find the strength?  Who helped you through this time?

Pray:  Spend some time reflecting on the death and resurrection of Jesus this week.  Read Mark 14-16; Matthew 26-28; Luke 22-24; and John 18-21.  Take in as many prayer opportunities as possible in your parish.

Serve:  Who in your life is dealing with life and death issues right now?  How might you be present to them to offer help, comfort, or strength?

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We enter into the heart of the Christian mystery: Holy Week offers us a time to pause, reflect, and pray as the Church ponders on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This mystery, often called the Paschal Mystery, recalls us to the saving work of the Lord.  His death frees of from the burdens of sin and death, and his resurrection opens for us the path to eternal life.  This mystery is profoundly experienced over the Triduum – the 3 Great Days:

  • Holy Thursday – the Mass of the Lord’s Supper
  • Good Friday – the Passion of the Christ
  • Easter (Vigil/Day) – the Resurrection of the Lord

On Holy Thursday we find ourselves in Jerusalem, eating with the disciples at the Lord’s Supper and feeling awkward as he washes their feet – wondering how we would react if he did that for us.  We might identify with Peter or Judas – especially when we consider the times we have willingly betrayed or turned our back on the Lord.

On Good Friday we experience the physical pain, emotional abandonment, and personal humiliation on the path to Calvary (also called Golgotha or Skull Place) and look on with horror at the cruel death of Jesus.  We might also consider the times we have helped others – as Simon did when he was forced to carry the Cross of Christ.    And then we stand in profound sorrow with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, helpless as the innocent suffer injustice.

On Easter we wait in vigil and rise early in the morning with Mary Magdalen, only to find to our wonder and joy that the tomb is empty:  Christ is alive!  Our world, like that of the apostles, is changed forever as we experience new hope and life.

A word to the wise – we get out of Holy Week what we put into it.  Here are some simple ways for an incredible experience.

  • Make church services a top priority – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter (Vigil or Day).
  • Take time to read and reflect on the scriptures (see at the top under “Pray”).
  • Make Holy Thursday an opportunity to offer a special act of service or kindness to another.
  • Make Good Friday fasting extra special with a gift to a particular charity that helps the poor.
  • Make Easter a time of gratitude – take a quiet moment to count our blessings and thank the Lord.
  • Find some time throughout this week to tell the people in our lives how much we love them.

May this be a time for all of us to grow closer to the Lord and one another.


Catholic Inspiration – Walking with the Lord in Holy Week – All Talks

Three Great Things

Below are all the recorded homilies and presentations offered at the Parish Mission for Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Green Valley, AZ from March 7-12, 2015.  Special thanks to the wonderful people at OLV for their hospitality – what a joy to be among you!

Sunday Homily Podcast – 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year B) – Saturday, March 7, 2015.

Monday Homily Podcast – Monday of the 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year I) – March 9, 2015.

Holy Week Presentation Podcast #1 – Palm Sunday – March 9, 2015.

Tuesday Homily Podcast – Tuesday of the 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year I) – March 10, 2015.

Holy Week Presentation Podcast #2 – Holy Thursday – March 10, 2015.

Holy Week Presentation Podcast #3 – Good Friday – March 11, 2015.

Thursday Homily Podcast – Thursday of the 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year I) – March 12, 2015.

Holy Week Presentation Podcast #4 – Easter – March 12, 2015.

In addition, I wish to thank the parishioners at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Solon Springs, WI who welcomed me to preach a concentrated version of this Mission on Saturday, February 28, 2015 – thank you for your kindness…these presentations grew out of our day together!


Walking with the Lord in Holy Week – Easter – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

This is the 4th of four presentations given at a Parish Mission on March 9-12, 2015 for Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Green Valley, Arizona.

Fr. Andrew’s Presentation Podcast #4 – Easter (33 minutes)

The power of the Resurrection and subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit transforms the disciples – they have encountered the Risen Lord and no longer fear sin and death.  Rather, they engage the world with Good News and share the gift of their lives with power and joy.  This transformation must always be understood through the double lens of the Cross/Resurrection; only with a clear understanding of the sacrifice of Christ can we begin to truly appreciate the gift of Eternal Life.  Two key concepts surface:

  • Strength
  • Sunrise…of Hope!

Our STRENGTH comes from the Lord.  Through our daily encounter with Christ through prayer and sacrament we our empowered to choose our attitude and seek opportunities to live our faith in the unique and precious moments of each day.

Furthermore, the Good News of Christ leads to a SUNRISE of HOPE.  We recognize that our personal witness is most authentic when our lives exude the hope and joy that come from Christ’s resurrection.  Guided by the Fruits of the Spirit, we can honestly look within our hearts and cast out anything that keeps us from God and one another.


Walking with the Lord in Holy Week – Good Friday – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

This is the 3rd of four presentations given at a Parish Mission on March 9-12, 2015 for Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Green Valley, Arizona.

Fr. Andrew’s Presentation Podcast #3 – Good Friday (33 minutes)

Carrying his Cross for the salvation of the world, the Lord reveals two key insights for Christians:

  • Sacrifice
  • Support

SACRIFICE – giving up something for the sake of something more important – becomes self evident as the Lord offers his life as a perfect offering.  Innocent and without sin, he takes our place and helps us to recognize our own sacrifices as a participation in his Cross.

SUPPORT appears when we look at two familiar figures in the Stations of the Cross – Simon of Cyrene and Veronica.  We read about Simon in the Scriptures, and Veronica has been a part of the tradition of this devotional prayer for centuries; both of them show that even the smallest of actions proclaims the value of human life in our relationships with one another.  Running toward suffering and sacrifice, we can (like a Firefighter) be agents in great and small ways for compassion, mercy, and tenderness.


Walking with the Lord in Holy Week – Holy Thursday – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

This is the 2nd of four presentations given at a Parish Mission on March 9-12, 2015 for Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Green Valley, Arizona.

Fr. Andrew’s Presentation Podcast #2 – Holy Thursday (33 minutes)

At the Last Supper on the night before he died, the Lord Jesus imparted two key commands that he gave to his disciples:

  • Service
  • Sacrament

In SERVICE the Lord taught with through his example of washing the disciples’ feet.  Found in John 13:1-15, Christ shows his disciples in a clear and direct way that following Jesus demands a call to serve one another.  Service is the path that invites us to give our lives, sharing the unique skills, resources, experiences, and talents we have for the good of others.

In SACRAMENT the Lord defined the bread and wine as his body and blood.  In addition to the Institution of the Eucharist found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke – St. Paul writes of this in 1st Corinthians 11:23-26.  Jesus teaches his disciples about his Body & Blood, and then commands his followers to eat and drink.  The Sacrament of the Eucharist is a crucial way in which we receive the Lord into our lives – providing us with the strength and grace we need to serve as his disciples.