Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Words from Fr Ed (From March 18th, 2012 Bulletin)

"Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." - John 3:14-16

There is a scene in the Passion of the Christ where Jesus and His Cross are being lifted up and then dropped into the hole prepared for it in the rocky ground of Golgotha. The camera catches the eyes of John as he sees His Master, His Lord, and His Love lifted above the ground in horrible torture. John’s eyes, however, reveal a certain wonder, even majesty, that may come from his remembering these words of Jesus, that He must "be lifted up" like the serpent in the desert.

This image from Moses became known as ‘Nehushtan’. It was a bronze image created at the command of God in order to cure the Israelites of a plague of snakes. (Numbers 21:4-9) Later, Hezekiah would destroy it because the people had begun to worship it as a false god. Its original power to heal came directly from God and obedience to Him. Looking at the snake brought healing, not because of any inherent healing power in the bronze snake, but rather in an act of obedience to an Almighty God.

Ironic that God would choose a snake as an image of healing, given its history in the Bible and association with Satan. This just goes to show how free God is to choose as He wills and for us to know that the power to heal does not lie in any creature. The imagery that we use in Catholic worship and devotion does not bear an inherent power separated from God’s grace. It is only by His grace that bread can be maintained as the Body of Christ, that relics of saints can heal broken limbs, and that gazing upon an icon can bring relief and consolation to the soul.

He knows us well though and provides for our sensory relationship with our environment. It helps to have an image to look at that draws our soul into a consideration of what is portrayed. The crucifix stands as a central image in our iconography. It portrays the saving event of Jesus giving His life for us. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life. " (John 3:16) There is a beautiful prayer that goes with the crucifix and has a special plenary indulgence attached to those who say it on Fridays during Lent:

BEHOLD, O good and sweetest Jesus,
I cast myself upon my knees in Thy sight, and with the most fervent desire of my soul
I pray and beseech Thee to impress upon my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity,
with true repentance for my sins and a most firm desire of amendment: whilst with deep affection and grief of soul
I consider within myself and mentally contemplate Thy five most precious Wounds,
having before mine eyes that which David, the prophet, long ago spoke in Thine own person concerning Thee,
my Jesus: "They have pierced My hands and My feet, they have numbered all My bones."

The normal conditions for receiving an indulgence apply

N20. §1. To gain a plenary indulgence, in addition to excluding all attachment to sin, even venial sin, it is necessary to perform the indulgenced work and fulfill the following three conditions:

sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

§2. A single sacramental confession suffices for gaining several plenary indulgences; but Holy Communion must be received and prayer for the intention of the Holy Father must be recited for the gaining of each plenary indulgence. 

§ 3. The three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the prescribed work; it is, however, fitting that Communion be received and the prayer for the intention of the Holy Father be said on the same day the work is performed. 
§4. If the full disposition is lacking, or if the work and the three prescribed conditions are not fulfilled, saving the provisions given in Norm 24 and in Norm 25 regarding those who are "impeded," the indulgence will only be partial. 

§5. The condition of praying for the intention of the Holy Father is fully satisfied by reciting one Our Father and one Hail Mary; nevertheless, one has the option of reciting any other prayer according to individual piety and devotion, if recited for this intention.

No comments: