Consider my heart both horrified and shattered.
We were talking about Good Friday during CCD class and one of my students raised her hand and asked if it was true that "all Jews went to hell because of what 'they' did to Jesus."
That question seriously made me feel like I was just mugged in the middle of Madison Square Garden on a Sunday afternoon.
After shaking what must've been the most stupified look ever from my face, I replied, "That's not true at all. No one can be sure of which souls are worthy of Heaven and which are punished in hell but God. Where did you hear that?"
She replied her father had told her. Another kid called out that he'd heard the same thing from his dad.
I was so beyond floored I simply don't have the words to express how distraught I was that there were parents teaching their impressionable children this horrifying prejudice!!!
So I attempted to redirect them and make it painstakingly clear that NO ONE can claim they know anyone (let alone an entire group of people) will end up in hell. NO ONE.
I gave them the example of Osama bin Laden. Of course every kid balked at first and basically said, "Surely you're out of your mind, Mrs. G. Obviously that SOB is using molten lava as mouthwash right now." However, I asked them to remember that even bin Laden was a child of God. God created him, too, with a soul and a heart just like the rest of us. I pressed them to answer if God loved bin Laden any less than the rest of us. Though they fought against admitting it, they finally relented and agreed that, yes, God "probably" loved bin Laden as much as He loved the rest of us. So with that in mind, would it be possible that God granted bin Laden a tiny moment of grace before his death in which bin Laden understood the pain he caused and sought forgiveness?
Again, this is all to prove a point to them. In their young minds, bin Laden is the most evil man ever - even worse than Hussein. So to be able to admit that even bin Laden might've somehow found his way into Purgatory forced them to admit that there's no way anyone could throw an entire group of people into the fire.
But wow. I was totally not prepared to have that one tossed my way last night. I'm seriously not even sure what I should do with the parents of these kids. Do I give them a call and say, "So hey... Dick and Jane brought up something interesting in class this week that I'd like to discuss with you" in the hopes that they realize what they say DOES have an effect?
Ugh - I don't know. I'm still truthfully a bit loopy from that. Thinking about it makes my heart hurt. It really does.
Dear Lord, these folks need to remember that Jesus, Himself, was a Jew! Those calling for His Death weren't just Jews - there were gentiles present as well! Christ died not just to save the Jews - He died to save ALL of us!
Le sigh - may God forgive us our foolishness.
This image is incredible!
I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I know I promised to answer Laura's question yesterday, but as soon as I buckled down to write, I got a call from Vincent's daycare. Poor little guy has a tummy bug, so I needed to pick him up and take him home.
Today, however, Daddy's with him. That means Mommy can answer Laura in peace!
Anyway, in order to understand the answer, I must first explain what the Triduum is. For Catholics, the Triduum is the holiest time in our Liturgical Calendar. It is the most important part of Salvation History as Christ, in those three days, fulfilled the promise of God when He said He would send a Savior who would reconcile humanity to Himself.
The Triduum, thus, becomes Holy Thursday Mass (when we remember the Last Supper), Holy Saturday (when we remember Christ's descent into Hell), through the Easter Vigil and Easter celebrations (when we remember His Glorious Resurrection and triumph over Death).
Anyway, since this is the most sacred part of the year for the Church - the finite point in linear history that somehow encapsulates the timeless Sacrifice of Christ - our Liturgy reflects our solemn, adoring and anguished spirit. We see ourselves, the Church, as dying WITH Christ.
This is also why throughout Lent, things are slowly removed from our Masses. Statues are draped (or even removed), fewer candles are lit, our beautiful "Alleluia" is laid to rest, and floral arrangements are typically absent.
As I explained to my children, something very special happens after Holy Thursday Mass. The priest removes Christ from the tabernacle and processes with Him to a place of repose. This signifies that Christ has begun His Sacrifice (which truly did begin with the moment of Consecration at the Last Supper - more on that in a bit).
The Mass on Holy Thursday does not "end." There is no "Go forth" or "Thanks be to God." There is only the procession of Christ to His place of repose and the silent, prayerful adoration of the faithful that stay watch with Him as He endures His Passion (akin to the Apostles as Christ led them to the Garden of Gethsemane to keep watch as He began His Agony in the Garden).
In fact, to further this point, after the Procession, the Church is stripped bare. Linens are removed from the pulpit, altar, tabernacle, etc. Furniture (like chairs, microphones, lecterns, etc) are taken into the sacristy. Candles aren't just snuffed out - they are removed entirely. Carpets are rolled away. Remaining statues may be taken down. Every movable object is taken away from our sanctuary and all lights (be they candles, spot-lights or chandeliers) are deadened. Our Church, symbolic of the spirit of all the faithful who create Her, dies with Her Master. He who is the Light of the World is consenting to become obscured and entombed.
As His faithful Spouse, we acknowledge our desolation... our mourning... our grief.
On Good Friday, there is "no Mass." Again, this is because technically, the Mass from Holy Thursday has not ended - nor will it until the close of the Vigil on Holy Saturday. Instead, we continue the Mass through Stations of the Cross, Adoration, communal and private meditation, recitation of the Rosary (specifically the Sorrowful Mysteries), Tenebrae etc.
This is to signify that we, the Church, the faithful Bride of Christ, follow Him on His Path towards Salvation. We consent to die with Him in order to take part in His Resurrection.
This moves us to Holy Saturday. On Holy Saturday, we remember in a special way Christ's descent into Hell, Limbo and Purgatory. We remember His Triumphant opening of the Gates of Heaven that were closed against us as a result of Original Sin. There is actually no "liturgy" for Holy Saturday until the vigil. This is a continuation of Christ's Sacrifice which began during Holy Thursday.
Finally, we arrive at our Easter Vigil. This special vigil is held after sundown. This is significant because this darkness is indicative of the spiritual darkness we are experiencing as we await the Light of the World. Again, this vigil does not start with the typical "opening Mass prayers" we're used to. Instead, the priest blesses a special fire which is typically made of Holy Oils from the previous year, salt, and twigs. This special fire is the first light we see and is symbolic of the Resurrection. This light is what's used to light our brand new Paschal Candle (the Christ Candle), and after the Candle is lit, the light begins to spread throughout the Church, from member to member, as a flame is passed between individual candles all are given at the opening of Mass.
As a sacristan who has been at the front of the Church awaiting the Exsultet (when we flip on all the lights, light all the candles, and bust out all the finery we've got to offer), seeing this light slowly spread throughout the entire Church... it's incredible.
Anyway, this is the point in the Liturgical Calendar in which we celebrate and acknowledge Christ's Triumph over Death. The Sacrifice has been complete and Salvation has been granted to us. Through His Offering, we have become reconciled and all the promises of God the Father to His Creation regarding the Messiah have been fulfilled. We rejoice in being reborn through His Death and Resurrection.
As THIS VIGIL MASS commences, we finally are able to hear again the priest's command to "Go Forth" and respond with a jubilant "Thanks be to God!" We acknowledge that the sacred Triduum that marks Christ's Sacrifice has reached its fulfillment, and we take our charge to "Go Forth" with zeal. We are charged to take the message of Salvation to all people who still "live in darkness."
So that, dear Laura, is why the answer to number 11 on the test was "One." There is but one Mass celebrated over 3 days during the Triduum.
As these three days recall the three long days of Christ's consummation by the Fire of His Love, we, too, offer these three days in solidarity with Him.
John and I will be away for the weekend. I don't know if I'll have access to the blog or not. However, my next entry will answer Laura's question.
Judas, too, was ordained a priest.
So the entry from yesterday was a lot more venomous than I had originally meant for it to turn out. I guess I was still a lot more angry and disgusted than I thought.
Anyway, a comment on one of the articles gave me pause. The woman wrote, "Jesus gave Communion to Judas, even knowing that he had betrayed Him, didn't He?"
He did! And He most certainly knew that Judas had already betrayed Him. In fact, as I mentioned before, Louisa Piccarretta described this scene in The 24 Hours of the Passion. As Jesus knelt before Judas to clean his feet, His Heart was torn in agony as He foresaw the end Judas would meet because of his stubborn refusal to ask forgiveness. In Judas, Christ saw all priests who would fall away from their callings. Yet still, He persisted in His blessings, He persisted in allowing Judas to partake of the Eucharist.
Soon after reading this comment, I came across one of Maria Valtorta's visions in which Jesus appears to 500 followers after His Resurrection. Sts. Peter and John are present, and Jesus teaches them the importance of obedience and perseverance. He says to them:
"And remember also that I did not refuse Myself even to Judas of Kerioth… A priest must try to save, by all possible means. And let love always prevail, among the means used to save. Consider that I was not unaware of Judas' horror… But, overcoming all disgust, I treated the wretch as I treated John [the Beloved Disciple]... One must work even then… always… until everything is accomplished."
Honestly, I have no idea how I came across that particular passage save for Divine Providence. In my own arrogance, I had also disregarded Church teaching by reacting with such anger towards Johnson. I think Christ wanted to remind me that I needed a bit more humility and a lot more charity if I wanted to fancy myself a follower of His.
Well played, Good Sir, well played.
So while I'm still disgusted by Barbara Johnson's actions (those actions being her willful attempt to commit a sacrilege and her subsequent lambasting of Father Guarnizo), I no longer wish that she and her hoard of supporters drop off the Catholic radar. Instead of praying for an early bout of Spring Cleaning that sees them all ostracized or relegated to protestant denominations, I should be praying that the Holy Spirit alights in their hearts so that they can see the error of their ways and return to the faithful, Catholic fold.
After all, in the same vision, Jesus stated to the crowd:
And those that for any reason should separate from the Mother Church, would be members cut off, no longer nourished with the mystic blood that is Grace coming from Me, the divine Head of the Church. Like prodigal sons, separated through their own will from the paternal house, in their short-lived wealth and constant and graver and graver misery, they would be blunting their spiritual intellects by means of too heavy foods and wines, and then they would languish eating the bitter acorns of unclean animals until they returned to the paternal house, saying with contrite hearts: "We have sinned. Father, forgive us and open the doors of your abode to us". Then, whether it is a member of a separated Church, or an entire Church - oh! if it were so, but where, when will so many imitators of Me arise, capable of redeeming these entire separated Churches, at the cost of their lives, to make, to remake only one Fold under only one shepherd, as I ardently wish? - then whether it is only one person or an assembly that comes back, open the doors to them.
And may they all feel the Light of the Spirit. May their minds be opened to His Wisdom, and may their egos be enveloped by His Glory. May mine, too.
However, let not this testimony give anyone the opinion that I will no longer strike out against such folly in the future. I still stand behind my opinion that this woman should be barred from the Eucharist until she reconciles herself to the Church through means of a true confession. I still stand behind my opinion that the priest did exactly what he should have done in preventing the sacrilege to occur. I also stand by my opinion that the superiors who shot out an apology should be ashamed of throwing their brother under the bus when he was only acting in the way our Church teaches he must (in protecting the Eucharist from sacrilege and by refusing to allow the public to be led astray by erroneous pastoral example).
May this brave and blessed priest ever feel the smile of Our Lady upon him, and may his superiors learn the error of their ways, seek forgiveness, and move forward with greater faith and solidarity.
So the last couple days have been a flurry of media activity regarding Barbara Johnson and her incredibly presumptuous attempt to partake of the Eucharist at her mother's funeral.
Unsurprisingly, almost every single news outlet paints Father Guarnizo as a heartless bigot who sniffed a gay and decided to make a political statement.
This woman then went on to whine about how she and her neice couldn't both eulogize her mother and how mean Father Guarnizo was by leaving the Church before she could finish waxing philosophical for her audience.
Pathetic - on so many, many levels - pathetic.
1 - You had just met this priest (for the FIRST TIME according to all accounts), and introduced him to your "partner." In two private accounts, supposed witnesses claim you used the word "lover." Considering you're self-proclaimed "Catholic upbringing" you know full-well living in an active homosexual relationship is a mortal sin. Don't be surprised when he bars you from Communion.
2 - The fact that you'd just met this man for the first time surprises me in and of itself. For being such a "devout" Catholic, how exactly did the funeral get put together without seeing him at least once? Sure, mom could've put arrangements together before her death, and sure, the funeral home may have gotten in touch with Fr. Guarnizo in order to ensure he was scheduled for the Mass, but really? You didn't attempt to meet with him beforehand to go over things like readings, share memories of your mother (for homily purposes) or express your desire for more than one eulogy (since eulogies aren't even a part of Catholic Funeral Masses except in cases where the pastor feels generous enough to allow one)?
3 - You attempt playing the martyr who really loves the Church but was just cruelly treated by one of her members in stating "I have gotten email upon email saying, ‘I’m not going back,’ and I say, ‘Please go back, because that man does not represent the Catholic Church.’"
Let me go ahead and stop you right there. This priest is more representative of the Catholic Church than you will ever be. He is not only representative of the Church, he is a hand-selected representative of Christ! He upholds the dogma of our Church and does not attempt bending the rules to suit his lifestyle choices, opinions or feelings. You'd do well to follow HIS example and not that of your own selfish, arrogant and misguided brain.
I wouldn't be nearly as angry with this if she was a non-Catholic. Non-Catholics wouldn't know any better and may very well assume that being in the Eucharistic line is just "what you do."
This woman KNOWS better but arrogantly defies Church teaching because she simply doesn't believe that her lifestyle is mortally sinful.
Fine - don't believe it. No one is forcing you to. But no one is forcing you to be in the Communion line, either. Find a church that opens its doors to perversions, untruths and errors. Don't expect the Church to bend Her teachings to give you warm fuzzies just because you don't agree with Her 2,000 + year old dogma.
THAT is what drives me up a wall. And the fact that this wonderful priest is now being thrown under the bus by his own superiors (because God forbid we hurt the feelings of the homosexual population!) also drives me up a wall. This is NOT a pastorally insensitive thing to do. Nor is it misguided. His duty is to protect the sanctity of the Eucharist and that's exactly what he did. God forbid he gave her the Eucharist (which would be a sacrilege according to our faith). That would be three-fold sin. First, the woman would commit an even graver sin by sullying the Sacrament. Next, the priest would commit the grave sin of comission by being a party to this sacrilege. Worst of all, the priest would then be sinning by leading those who saw this exchange into moral confusion (because they might think this sacrilege to be perfectly acceptable).
Oh, for shame that folks don't realize that the priest protected not only this woman, but himself and all present at the expense of his own person. Shameful, shameful, shameful!
Instead, this ungracious woman lashes out at him to anyone who will listen. Why? Because her over-inflated ego was bruised. Better her ego than her soul and the souls of those would have witnessed it.
Honestly, I hope that anyone who stands in solidarity with her DOES stop considering themselves Catholic. These types of folks do more harm than the atheists or agnostics who rally against us openly. These "Cafeteria Catholics" are the WORST because they spread fallacy and scandal from the inside.
Our beloved Church is heading for a schism. The more that superiors bend to trash like this, the more we hurt ourselves. Pretty soon, there's going to be a reckoning in which true Catholics stand up and say "NO MORE." We need to clean house and rid ourselves of these cancerous members (laity and clergy included). I wish such a step weren't necessary, but there is no doubt in my mind that this will come to a head within 10-15 years.
We also need to do a better job teaching our members the TRUTH of our faith and punishing those who wish to bend that truth to fit their own warped agendas.
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