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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monthly Archives: February 2013
Wednesday

By Rev. Joseph Krastel, C.Ss.R.
The Spirit of Lent: Seven Lenten Meditations on the Work of the Holy Spirit 

As Christ walked through the locked door on Easter night, the apostles felt a little apprehensive. What had happened to all their bravery, as they strapped on their swords at the Last Supper? Surely, Jesus would chide them for running away when he was arrested.

To their surprise, the Risen Lord said: “Peace be with you!” As he showed them the wounds of the crucifixion, the apostles were stunned that he had come to heal them. Christ’s peace seeped into their discouraged hearts and guilty souls.

And, beyond the healing of the apostles, Christ began a way for the Church to breathe peace into people’s guilty consciences. The Gospel of John tells us, “He breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you do not forgive, they are not forgiven.’” (Jn 20:22)

In the past 2,000 years, the gentle Spirit of Peace has swept through the souls of millions of sinners. As ministers of the sacrament have said, “and I absolve you from your sins,” peace, the Spirit of Peace, has penetrated their hesitant and surprised hearts. Gone are shame and confusion; the Spirit has breathed forgiveness and vigor into their hearts.

For 1,200 years, Catholics have talked about and fulfilled their “Easter Duty.” That is, they confessed their sins and received the Holy Eucharist in the weeks before or after Easter. This practice has added vitality and holiness to the whole Church. These Catholics allowed the Spirit to blow away the dust and cobwebs of sin in their lives.

Sometimes, as we recite the Creed, we rush by the words, “I believe in the holy Catholic Church.” Of course, this refers to the holiness of Christ, the head of the Church. But, through the cleansing breath of the Spirit, ordinary Catholics have added their own cleared consciences to the holiness of the Church.

Finally, millions of Catholics, especially members of religious communities and their associates, have made Reconciliation a method of spiritual growth. Through systematic looks at various areas of their personalities as they prepare for confession, they have used this sacrament to make progress in curbing their tempers, developing their chastity or handling distractions during their prayer. The advice of a regular confessor has enabled the Spirit to help them brush aside discouragement, grow beyond repeated, past sins and to grow in the image of Jesus.

“Peace be with you.” May your Lenten confession bring you this precious activity of the Spirit.

Fr. Krastel professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1959 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1964. He is an associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, MD.

 Previous reflections:
40 Days with Christ in the desert
The dewfall of the Spirit

 

Monday

Redemptorist Fr. Dennis Billy, seminary professor and author, presents 12 talks on prayer — the what, why and how — in a new DVD/CD series available now through Now You Know Media.

From the Now You Know website:

Through twelve brilliant and moving talks, you will discover what makes prayer uniquely Christian and examine the essential role of prayer in the spiritual life. This course is thoughtfully designed for those who seek to gain a more profound background on the theology of prayer.

You will look at the nature of prayer, its various forms, and the rhythm of prayer Christians should seek to maintain in their lives. You will also explore the Lord’s Prayer’s special place in the Christian prayer life, discovering why it is considered the “perfect prayer” and “summary of the Gospel.” You will then learn about such topics as lectio divina, the distinctions between ascetical and mystical prayer, and the various interpretations of Paul’s exhortation to “pray without ceasing” (1 Th 5:17).

Click here to order.

Fr. Billy is a member of the Redemptorists’ Baltimore Province, and is scholar-in-residence, and holder of the John Cardinal Krol Chair of Moral Theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

 

 

Wednesday

By Rev. Joseph Krastel, C.Ss.R.
The Spirit of Lent: Seven Lenten Meditations on the Work of the Holy Spirit

Maybe, like many English-speaking Catholics, you have struggled with the tongue-twisters and complications of the new translation of the Mass. Yet, among the subordinate clauses and inverted sentences, some spiritual nuggets of gold have appeared. One of these gems points to the Holy Spirit and to the almost imperceptible activity of God in our world.

“Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them, like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Eucharistic Prayer II)

When God started the Church on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit appeared as a hurricane-force wind, sweeping into the upper room where the disciples had gathered. People, especially tourists for the Jewish feast day, rushed to the place, expecting the building to be flattened. Instead, they heard Peter speaking, in words all could understand, about the saving deeds of Jesus. (Acts 2:1-11)

That earth-shaking appearance of the Spirit was an exception. Usually, the Holy Spirit acts quietly, gently, like the dewfall.

In Old Testament thought, the same word means both “wind” and “spirit.” And so, Genesis pictures “pre-creation” as formless, chaotic waters. To begin creation, God breathes his ruah, his spirit, on the chaos to begin the ordering of creation. (Gn 1:1-3; and excellent footnotes in the New American Bible) Also, the Bible pictures the punishment for attempting to build the Tower of Babel as the confusion of many languages among the workers. (Gn 11:9) This confusion of many languages is corrected by the Spirit on Pentecost, as all the tourists — Medes, Parthians, Elamites, etc. — can understand Peter’s sermon given in a Galilean dialect. (Acts 2:7-11)

In our own spiritual life, we see the gentle “ordering” of the Spirit in the development of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we receive at Baptism and Confirmation. Starting with wisdom, which always serves as a light to guide us to God amid the complications and dead ends of our lives, the Holy Spirit sticks with us, and helps us to develop these quiet, internal strengths to offset the chaos and confusion that often attack our souls. When our spirits are parched by the cares, envies and turmoil of life, the Spirit comes “like dewfall” to refresh us.

At times, people go to Lourdes or Medjugorje or to a healing service with some curiosity in their hopes: “Will I see some dramatic cure?” Lent teaches us to notice quiet and obscure signs of God’s activity. As we join Christ praying in the wilderness, we can count on the Spirit to refresh us with his “dewfall.”

Fr. Krastel professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1959 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1964. He is an associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, MD.

Previous reflections:
40 Days with Christ in the desert

 

 

Monday

Share the joy of Easter with someone you love by enrolling them in our Easter Octave of Masses. Those enrolled will be remembered in an octave of Masses celebrated by the Redemptorists in Rome before the original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The octave begins Easter Sunday and ends on the Sunday after Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday.

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Your donation supports the ministries of the Redemptorists as we serve the poor and most spiritually abandoned in 78 countries worldwide.

 

 

Wednesday

By Rev. Joseph Krastel, C.Ss.R.
The Spirit of Lent: Seven Lenten Meditations on the Work of the Holy Spirit

“At once the Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert. He remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” (Mk 1:12-13)

The Church imagines the forty days of Lent as our annual forty days with Christ, a time of thought about our futures, a time of penance, a time of prayer.

These meditations are offered with emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit in the divine plan of our redemption. When a startled Mary wondered how she could have a divine child, the angel answered: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Lk 1:35) In the quiet ways of God, the power of the Holy Spirit has engineered the drama of human redemption down through the centuries.

And so, after the voice from heaven acknowledged his origins and mission, Jesus was rushed into the desert for forty days of prayer, austerity and temptation.

Does this voice from heaven ring in our ears? Is the Spirit hustling us into forty days of austerity with Christ? Or will this Lent slip by us as the stock market and Spring Training and the last days of winter chill our souls?

Every year, the Holy Spirit, in the quiet ways of God, invites us to join Christ in the desert. Without fanfare, the Spirit urges us to make these forty days special. The Spirit hopes that Easter will find us gaunt and reflective because of the austerity and meditation of Lent. The Spirit wants to breathe into us a new peace, a new dedication to God, a renewed love of our families and authentic self-development in our careers. The Spirit hopes to help us to triumph over the usual temptations by which Satan ensnares us.

Most of all, the Spirit of Peace, Christ’s great gift of forgiveness to the Church, hopes that we will feel the special healing and peace that will come in our Lenten Confession. This year, tens of millions of Catholics in Lithuania and Las Vegas and Laos will experience the special love of Jesus, as the Holy Spirit breathes away their sordid past and makes way for Christ’s peace.

“Lord send forth your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” (cf. Ps 104:30) Let the Spirit renew you through the penance and peace of Lent 2013.

Fr. Krastel professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1959 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1964. He is an associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, MD.