Morning Offering: O Jesus, through the most pure heart of Mary, I offer you all the prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your divine heart, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass. I offer them especially for the Holy Father's intentions:
Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for March is: "That the world economy may be managed according to the principles of justice and equity, taking account of the real needs of peoples, especially the poorest".
His mission intention is: "That the Churches in Africa may be signs and instruments of reconciliation and justice in every part of that continent"..
Prayers this week: Rejoice to the full in the glory that is yours, and give thanks to God who called you to his kingdom, alleluia. (4 Ezr 2: 36-37)
God of mercy, you wash away our sins in water, you give us new birth in the Spirit, and redeem us in the blood of Christ. As we celebrate Christ's resurrection increase our awareness of these blessings and renew your gift of life within us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen. Alleluia.
St. Stanislaus (1030-1079)
Anyone who reads the history of Eastern Europe cannot help but chance on the name of Stanislaus, the saintly but tragic bishop of Kraków, patron of Poland. He is remembered with Saints Thomas More and Thomas Becket for vigorous opposition to the evils of an unjust government. Born in Szczepanow near Kraków on July 26, 1030, he was ordained a priest after being educated in the cathedral schools of Gniezno, then capital of Poland, and at Paris. He was appointed preacher and archdeacon to the bishop of Kraków, where his eloquence and example brought about real conversion in many of his penitents, both clergy and laity. He became bishop of Kraków in 1072. During an expedition against the Grand Duchy of Kiev, Stanislaus became involved in the political situation of Poland. Known for his outspokenness, he aimed his attacks at the evils of the peasantry and the king, especially the unjust wars and immoral acts of King Boleslaus II.. The king first excused himself, then made a show of penance, then relapsed into his old ways. Stanislaus continued his open opposition in spite of charges of treason and threats of death, finally excommunicating the king. The latter, enraged, ordered soldiers to kill the bishop. When they refused, the king killed him with his own hands. Forced to flee to Hungary, Boleslaus supposedly spent the rest of his life as a penitent in the Benedictine abbey in Osiak.
The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John (20.19~31)
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you." And with that He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told Him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it." A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.
Mercy and sin
(Homily by Fr. E. J. Tyler)
There have been numerous philosophers in the history of human thought, and some of them have been great. More rarely, there have been those claiming a direct contact with the divine and then the personal authority to speak on behalf of the divine. That is to say, they have claimed to be prophets. Mahomet made this claim, and there have been others as well. The one who accepts the Judaeo-Christian revelation would probably have no trouble in allowing that in a certain sense there have been “prophets” outside the pale of this revelation, in that God can speak to whom he wills. In a certain sense, the Magi from the East, being led by a heavenly star, were the recipients of a kind of revelation and were spokesmen of it. They told the inhabitants of Jerusalem that a heavenly star was leading them to the infant King. They were “prophets” of the arrival of the Messiah. As is obvious, being a prophet was not unique to Jesus Christ, even though the Christian will count him as the greatest of the prophets and much more than a prophet. There are, however, several things about Jesus Christ that are unique to him. None of the Old Testament prophets claimed to be divine — of course. Mahomet never claimed to be divine. Nor did Buddha (who may have been agnostic in respect to the divine, anyway), nor did Zoroaster. Jesus Christ claimed to be divine, and this was perhaps the principal reason why he was condemned to death by the religious leaders of the people. Intimately connected with this divine claim was another — with its related practice — which distinguished Jesus Christ. I refer to his ready practice of the forgiveness of sins. No other prophet before him claimed the personal authority to forgive sins. Moses never said to anyone, nor had Abraham, Isaac or Jacob before him, nor did any prophet after him, say to anyone, “I forgive you your sins.” There were ceremonies and rituals of various kinds designed to symbolize man’s appeal for forgiveness and the pardon of God as a result. But no man claimed the power to forgive sins — except Jesus Christ. It is no surprise to read in the Gospels that this caused a sensation among the religious leaders.
It meant, of course, that any sinner could go to a particular man — Jesus of Nazareth — and ask to be forgiven for sins against God. At a word and on his own authority, he could pardon any man his sins. If Jesus indeed had this authority, it would be an extraordinary benefit for sinners. They would have a clear and certain access to the forgiveness of sins — and this is the fundamental problem for every man and woman. How can I obtain the forgiveness of my sins? Of course, the appreciation of this blessing is contingent on the appreciation of the tragedy and the curse of sin. If there is little or no sense of the evil of sin, there will be little or no sense of the magnificence of the blessing of forgiveness. Our Lord forgave the sinful woman after she had entered the house of the Pharisee where Jesus was dining. Your sins are forgiven you, he said to her in the presence of his hosts. It was a great blessing for her. But now, did any of the scribes and Pharisees, observing this display of divine authority, consider asking Christ for forgiveness of their sins? Obviously not, and the reason was that, apart from lacking faith in the person and authority of Christ, they lacked the sense of personal sin. They were not burdened with a sense that they were great sinners — which our Lord shows elsewhere that they were — and anxious to find some way of obtaining forgiveness. In a sense, this is the modern problem. We too lack a sense of personal sin. We may allow that Jesus Christ is the son of God, but our minds and hearts are all too readily clouded with indifference. We lack a concern for sin — at least for deliberate venial sin. As a result, we lack an appreciation for the gift of divine mercy as expressed in the ready pardon of our sins. This divine pardon for sin as constantly present in the person of Jesus Christ in the Gospels, has been handed on by him to his ordained representatives. The result is that now this blessing is even more available than it was when our Lord himself walked the earth.
On the evening of the day our Lord rose from the dead he appeared to the Apostolic band. Having rebuked them for their failure to believe the announcement of his resurrection, he conferred on them his power to forgive sins (John 20: 19-31). It was an extraordinary blessing of divine mercy, and unprecedented in religion. Men were now invested with the power to forgive sins. It means that the divine mercy is readily available wherever those invested men go. They were to go all over the world bringing the forgiveness of sins to all the nations. It is a principal reason for entering the Church which Christ founded on the rock of Peter. Let us have a deep appreciation of the tragedy of personal sin and of the blessing of divine pardon so readily available to all.