Easter Morning:  Witnesses to an Empty Tomb

“Peter and John Running to the Tomb” by Eugène Burnand (1850 – 1921)

The full title is “The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection”. It is Burnand’s best-known work and a depiction of John the Apostle’s Gospel account (Jn 20:3).

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (20:1-9)

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

The Gospel of the Lord

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Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb (Mk 16:2).

“Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus says that there is a future for every human being; the cry for unending life which is a part of the person is indeed answered.  Through Jesus we do know ‘the room where exiled love lays down its victory.’  He himself is this place, and he calls us to be with him and in dependence on him.  He calls us to keep this place open within the world so that he, the exiled love, may reappear over and over in the world …. God exists; that is the real message of Easter.  Anyone who even begins to grasp what this means also knows what it means to be redeemed.”  (Pope Benedict XVI)

– Magnificat, Apr 1, 2018


Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Christmas Reflection: The Alarming Message of the Bethlehem Angels

The Alarming Message of the Bethlehem Angels

Luke tells us that on Christmas night an angel appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their sheep.  Don’t get sentimental about angels, imagining them to be sweet and unthreatening.  Instead, keep in mind that the typical reaction to the sudden manifestation of a higher being from another dimension is, quite properly, fear.  Indeed, the Christmas messenger says to the shepherds, “Don’t be afraid,” which implies that they were!

The angel announces the Good News of Christ’s birth, and then we are told that “there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel praising God ….”  If one angel is terrifying, imagine what a multitude of them is like.  The Greek word that is translated as “host” is stratias, which means army.  Our words “strategy” and “strategic” are derived from it.  The most powerful man in the world at that time was Caesar Augustus, and his power was grounded in the fact that he had the biggest and best-trained army.  The rather subtle and subversive point that Saint Luke is making is this:  the newborn baby of Bethlehem has an even bigger and more frightening army.  Mind you, this angelic army doesn’t fight with the weapons of the world, but it can indeed overwhelm anything that is in the world.

–  Reverend Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron is the Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles; he is the founder of Word on Fire (www.wordonfire.org).

Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds (1639), by Govert Flinck, Dutch painter of the Dutch Golden Age.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (2:1-14)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest/ and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The Nativity and the Annunciation to the Shepherds, Bernardino Luini (1480/1490-1532).

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Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Silent Night: Christmas Eve

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In this night of reconciliation, let none be angry or gloomy. In this night that stills everything, let nothing threaten or disturb. This night belongs to the sweet One; let nothing bitter or harsh be in it. In this night that belongs to the meek One, let there be nothing high or haughty. In this day of pardoning, let us not exact punishments for trespasses.

St. Ephraem the Syrian

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Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.


Blessed Are We: Christ’s Mass is Christmas

Today, Christmas Eve, as we celebrate the Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord, and look forward to the joys of Christmas Day, I offer Christmas wishes to my fellow Catholics: active, passive, and fallen-away:

Here’s hoping you’ll find time for Mass tonight – this celebration of Christ’s Mass (Christmas) – even and especially if you haven’t been in awhile.  I’m sure there’ll be a few options for your schedule; and never despair at returning to the God who loves you.  Know, as a member of God’s family, among the Communion of Saints, there are those praying for you more often than you’ll ever know.

Tonight, let the Christ-child, whom we celebrate in a very special way this season, and especially tonight, and Christmas Day, have a place in the Inn of your Heart.  Make room for the infant Jesus there.

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Saint Pope John Paul II called the Eucharist the “Source and Summit of the Christian faith.”  This is because the Eucharist refreshes the soul of everyone who thirsts for Him.  Through your baptismal (Catholic) faith you have a seat at this table in a very special way.  The Eucharist is food for the soul.  It is the Manna come down from Heaven – the food granted to God’s people for the Christian journey.

My prayer for you, Catholic brothers and sisters in the Christian faith, is that throughout your life, despite the noise of this Secular Age in which we live, you will hear Christ’s Eucharistic call for you – his loving invitation to let him journey with you each day of your life; to join him at his Communion table, to receive Him as food for your journey and, in this Eucharistic celebration at every Mass, you will invite the Christ-child to change and transform you, so, like St. Paul, it will no longer be I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

Such is the transformative, sacramental power of the Eucharist.  And it this arrival of the baby born of a Virgin, born to be the King of Kings, the long-awaited Messiah foretold through the ages by the Jewish prophets, whom we celebrate on this Christmas Day.  It is He whom we celebrate at this Christ’s Mass and at every Mass celebrated every hour, of every day, on every nation of the Earth.

It is through our life’s journey that we are meant to truly discover who God has created us to be.  We are called for mission; and we, Catholics, are very fortunate, for we truly are blessed – we who have been called to the Supper of the Lamb.

Trust always in God’s plans for you.  Live out your mission in and through your baptismal faith.

Merry Christmas.  Peace be with you – always.

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For more information please visit https://www.catholicscomehome.org .

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Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.

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Advent Reflections:  The Witness of John the Baptist

The Witness of John the Baptist

The entire existence of the Forerunner of Jesus was nourished by his relationship with God, particularly the period he spent in desert regions (cf. Lk 1:80). The desert regions are places of temptation but also where man acquires a sense of his own poverty, because once deprived of material support and security, he understands that the only steadfast reference point is God himself. John the Baptist, however, is not only a man of prayer, in permanent contact with God, but also a guide in this relationship. The Evangelist Luke, recalling the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, the Our Father, notes that the request was formulated by the disciples in these words: Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his own disciples (cf. Lk 11:1)….

Celebrating the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist reminds us too, Christians of this time, that with love for Christ, for his words and for the Truth, we cannot stoop to compromises. The Truth is Truth; there are no compromises. Christian life demands, so to speak, the “martyrdom” of daily fidelity to the Gospel, the courage, that is, to let Christ grow within us and let him be the One who guides our thought and our actions. However, this can happen in our life only if we have a solid relationship with God. Prayer is not time wasted, it does not take away time from our activities, even apostolic activities, but exactly the opposite is true: only if we are able to have a faithful, constant, and trusting life of prayer will God himself give us the ability and strength to live happily and serenely, to surmount difficulties, and to witness courageously to him. Saint John the Baptist, intercede for us, that we may be ever able to preserve the primacy of God in our life.

Pope Benedict XVI

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Saint Jean-Baptiste, by French painter Alexandre Cabanel (1849)


The third Sunday and week of Advent

Christ’s coming is Good News to those who are aware of their emptiness and need.  For them it is a cause for rejoicing.  It spells loss, however, for those who are full of themselves, their own importance, and their possessions.  (Magnificat, Dec 16, 2017)

He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,/ to heal the broken­hearted, / To proclaim liberty to the captives/ and release to the prisoners. (Is 61:1)

Psalm 146:5-10

He is happy who is helped by Jacob’s God,

whose hope is in the Lord his God,

who alone made heaven and earth,

the seas and all they contain.

It is he who keeps faith for ever,

who is just to those who are oppressed.

It is he who gives bread to the hungry,

the Lord, who sets prisoners free,

the Lord who gives sight to the blind,

who raises up those who are bowed down,

the Lord, who protects the stranger

and upholds the widow and orphan.

It is the Lord who loves the just

but thwarts the path of the wicked.

The Lord will reign for ever,

Zion’s God, from age to age.

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Let our hearts be open and may He find his rest there, in our hearts, as he rested in the manger with Mary and Joseph. So it is with hope, faith, peace and joy may we actively participate in Christ’s arrival during this beautiful season of Advent.


Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.



Advent Reflections: The Value of Patience, by St. Cyprian

A treatise on the value of patience, by Saint Cyprian

What we do not see, we hope for

Patience is a precept for salvation given us by our Lord our teacher: Whoever endures to the end will be saved. And again: If you persevere in my word, you will truly be my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Dear brethren, we must endure and persevere if we are to attain the truth and freedom we have been allowed to hope for; faith and hope are the very meaning of our being Christians, but if faith and hope are to bear their fruit, patience is necessary.

We do not seek glory now, in the present, but we look for future glory, as Saint Paul instructs us when he says: By hope we were saved. Now hope which is seen is not hope; how can a man hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it in patience. Patient waiting is necessary if we are to be perfected in what we have begun to be, and if we are to receive from God what we hope for and believe.

In another place the same Apostle instructs and teaches the just, and those active in good works, and those who store up for themselves treasures in heaven through the reward God gives them. They are to be patient also, for he says: Therefore while we have time, let us do good to all, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith. But let us not grow weary in doing good, for we shall reap our reward in due season.

Paul warns us not to grow weary in good works through impatience, not to be distracted or overcome by temptations and so give up in the midst of our pilgrimage of praise and glory, and allow our past good deeds to count for nothing because what was begun falls short of completion.

Finally the Apostle, speaking of charity, unites it with endurance and patience. Charity, he says, is always patient and kind; it is not jealous, is not boastful, is not given to anger, does not think evil, loves all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. He shows that charity can be steadfast and persevering because it has learned how to endure all things.

And in another place he says: Bear with one another lovingly, striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He shows that neither unity nor peace can be maintained unless the brethren cherish each other with mutual forbearance and preserve the bond of harmony by means of patience.

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The first Sunday and week of Advent

In her wisdom, the Catholic Church sets aside the season of Advent as a time for the Christian faithful to refresh, refocus and reexamine. It is a time we are meant to ask ourselves: How is the state of my soul? Am I prepared for the coming of Christ? As we hear from the Prophet Isaiah in the readings of the first Sunday of Advent, are we like polluted rags, have we all withered like leaves? Or would that our Lord meet us doing right, that we are mindful of Him in our ways (cf Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7)?

Advent truly is a season of waiting, but one of active waiting. As St. Paul exhorts us, as he did his brothers and sisters in Corinth, we must keep firm to the end, as we were called to fellowship with God’s son, Jesus Christ (Cor 1:3-9). Therefore, this anticipation of the Christ Child, the long-awaited Messiah, foretold by the Jewish prophets, whom we will receive on Christmas Day, must be anticipated in a sense of watchfulness, alertness, for we truly do not know when the time will come when the lord of the house is coming (Mk 13:13-37).

So, this Advent, we are reminded again, as in every year: “Watch!” And we are invited to prepare our hearts, to open our minds, for the arrival of the Infant Jesus, who from Bethlehem, the City of Bread, will become for us the Bread of Life – thanks be to God!

How will I prepare (how will my family prepare) for the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, The Christ this year?

Let our hearts be open and may He find his rest there, in our hearts, as he rested in the manger with Mary and Joseph. So it is with hope, faith, peace and joy may we actively participate in Christ’s arrival during this beautiful season of Advent.


Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen. 


Advent Reflections:  The Tradition of the Christmas Crib

The Tradition of the Christmas Crib

Following a beautiful and firmly-rooted tradition, many families set up their crib immediately after the feast of the Immaculate Conception, as if to relive with Mary those days full of trepidation that preceded the Birth of Jesus.  Putting up the crib at home can be a simple but effective way of presenting faith, to pass it on to one’s children.  The crib helps us contemplate the mystery of God’s love that was revealed in the poverty and simplicity of the Bethlehem Grotto.  Saint Francis of Assisi was so taken by the mystery of the Incarnation that he wanted to present it anew at Greccio in the living nativity scene, thus beginning an old, popular tradition that still retains its value for evangelization today.  Indeed, the crib can help us understand the secret of the true Christmas because it speaks of the humility and merciful goodness of Christ, who though he was rich he made himself poor for us (2 Cor 8:9).  His poverty enriches those who embrace it, and Christmas brings joy and peace to those who, like the shepherds in Bethlehem, accept the angel’s words: Let this be a sign to you: in a manger you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes (Lk 2:12).  This is still the sign for us too, men and women of the third millennium.  There is no other Christmas.

Pope Benedict XVI

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The Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622


The first Sunday and week of Advent

In her wisdom, the Catholic Church sets aside the season of Advent as a time for the Christian faithful to refresh, refocus and reexamine. It is a time we are meant to ask ourselves: How is the state of my soul? Am I prepared for the coming of Christ? As we hear from the Prophet Isaiah in the readings of the first Sunday of Advent, are we like polluted rags, have we all withered like leaves? Or would that our Lord meet us doing right, that we are mindful of Him in our ways (cf Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7)?

Advent truly is a season of waiting, but one of active waiting. As St. Paul exhorts us, as he did his brothers and sisters in Corinth, we must keep firm to the end, as we were called to fellowship with God’s son, Jesus Christ (Cor 1:3-9). Therefore, this anticipation of the Christ Child, the long-awaited Messiah, foretold by the Jewish prophets, whom we will receive on Christmas Day, must be anticipated in a sense of watchfulness, alertness, for we truly do not know when the time will come when the lord of the house is coming (Mk 13:13-37).

So, this Advent, we are reminded again, as in every year: “Watch!” And we are invited to prepare our hearts, to open our minds, for the arrival of the Infant Jesus, who from Bethlehem, the City of Bread, will become for us the Bread of Life – thanks be to God!

How will I prepare (how will my family prepare) for the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, The Christ this year?

Let our hearts be open and may He find his rest there, in our hearts, as he rested in the manger with Mary and Joseph. So it is with hope, faith, peace and joy may we actively participate in Christ’s arrival during this beautiful season of Advent.


Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.

Holy Family pray for us … Amen.