“Hear me, o islands, listen, o distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.” (IS 49: 1)
We are “called from birth,” and Our Lord called us by name. He knows us from our mother’s womb, and even though we were so small, we received a name from Him. We are so important to Him, and He remembers all our names. Whatever He does during the Holy Week is because of you and me, not because of “humanity.” He loves by names.
“Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father; you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.” (Gospel Acclamation)
Our Lady in Gietrzwałd spoke to the girls in the local version of the language that they understood best. It is the idea behind the whole New Evangelization. That was also the guiding idea while creating the Love and Life Programs: to tell married couples about the most important issues in a language comprehensible to them and to inspire rather than to instruct.
The Mass with the renewal of Marriage Vows is always an exceptional experience–this time it was celebrated in the atmosphere of the Passion of Christ, which gave us a fresh perspective. The testimonies session after the Program, in which so many young couples took part, demonstrated how important it is to be systematic in fostering your relationship, and that there are always areas for improvement–independent of the years passed since your wedding day. We witnessed the tears of emotion, emotional farewells and plans for the participation in Program 2 next year.
I would like to thank you, dear Friends, for your prayer and support, of which I received so many signs.
“I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” (IS 42: 6-7)
Jesus came to us “as a covenant of the people,” to open our eyes—“those who live in darkness,” and to bring us out—prisoners of sin and weakness. Holy Week is a mystery of His love, where we are not observers, but participants, where we talk not about the past, but about the present.
“Hail to you, our King; you alone are compassionate with our faults.” (Gospel Acclamation)
I am so happy when the Programs are held under the special care of Our Lady. The story behind Our Lady of Gietrzwald reminds me of that connected with Our Lady of Guadalupe where the Mother of God spoke to St. Juan Diego in nahuatl–the native language of the Indians. Warmia and Gietrzwald were conquered by Prussia, and Bismarck decided that the “two eternal enemies of German-protestant Prussia,” the Roman Catholic Church and the Poles, were to be eliminated. Our Lady revealed herself in the time of “Kulturkampf” when both the pastoral activities of the Church and the Polish language were banned; every evening between June 27 and September 16, 1887, during the rosary prayers, she spoke in the local dialect of Polish. Since she appeared to two little girls (and blessed a spring whose waters later healed the ill), the shrine is called “the Polish Lourdes,” and the same as at Lourdes and Fatima, she encouraged people to pray the rosary.
St. John Paul II, when he announced the Year of the Rosary, also recommended this prayer as a rescue for families and the way to experience peace in the world. We’re happy to take this frequently repeated invitation of Our Lady to heart, and we surround the Program and the families who are taking part in it with a devoted rosary prayer. The Holy Family wants to invite every family to their home in Nazareth, so that the couples may renew the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage. We’re happy to host so many young couples here. It is a great joy that the young people are willing to nurture their marriages and devote a significant amount of time to discover again their depth.
Thank you for all the signs of prayer support for us.
Praying with my heart for you at Our Lady’s place Fr. Jay
“Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (PHIL 2: 6-8)
Today we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion in the story written by Mark. Traditionally, we read John’s version only on Good Friday. The same story and the same Gospel about God’s love for us is even written by different authors because there is only one Gospel and only one Good News, like there is only One God. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, “though he was in the form of God . . . emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” to reveal the magnitude of God’s love through death on the cross–God for humans, Life for life and Love for love.
“Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples.” (JN 11: 54)
It looks like we have a similar situation in our day—Jesus’ teaching, protected by His Church, is eliminated from the public square: no right for crosses in public buildings, for Christian monuments or for signs of His presence outside the parish. Christmas and Easter have become “Holiday Seasons” and times for crazy shopping, but below this surface, there is a deeper life—the mystery of His love and what He did for us. He is so happy when He can “remain with His disciples.”
“Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” (JN 10: 32)
Our Lord came to us to reveal God’s love for us. All His “good works” came from His Father. All of His miracles and His teaching are about the same thing—how much we are loved. In response to these “good works from the Father,” they try to stone Him. What we can do is to answer with all our love for His love and do even something small to compensate for the pain He experienced. For example, during every Friday of Lent, we can assist Him on His way of the Cross with our love and gratitude.
“Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” (JN 8: 51)
Such comforting words: “will never see death”—there is only one condition:” whoever keeps my word,” and the very solemn promise: “Amen, amen, I say to you.” I hope that in Heaven somebody checks our blog and our fidelity; everyday we share His words to help each other keep His word alive and effective in our daily lives. One sentence a day keeps the devil away. 🙂
“If today you hear his voice; harden not your hearts.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.” (LK 1: 26-27)
Today we celebrate solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Our Lady became the mother of Our Lord, and after nine months,she would deliver Him on the 25th of December. On this day so many Catholics start a spiritual adoption. Sisters who take care of the “window of life” confirm that many children are born close to Christmas. It looks like this spiritual adoption saves lives.
The initiative of God the Father was: His angel, His care, and His Son, and all of this depends on the answer of Our Lady. God, who created us, gave us free will to invite us to be a part of the Redemption not just receivers of His grace.
“The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us; and we saw his glory.” (Gospel Acclamation)