Sound the Strepitus

An Obituary and Eulogistic Meditation of Yeshua bar Yahosef bar Yaqub

The Strepitus is the sudden loud clatter that symbolizes how the Earth convulsed at the physical death of the only begotten Son of our Lord.   In Matthew 27:46-53, when Christ gave up His spirit on the Crucifix, there was a tumultuous earthquake.   It is the jarring closing of a Tenebae Service, which is done in preparation for the Paschal Triduum.

Some churches have the Tenebrae on Spy Wednesday.  Others choose to extinguish the lights after celebrating the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday or even Great and Holy Friday.  Regardless of the time, it is a ritual that reminds us of how the Light of the World was briefly extinguished to fulfill scripture as an expiation for mankind’s sinfulness.

While it is difficult to watch Mel Gibson’s cinematic masterpiece The Passion of the Christ (2004) for its depiction of the savage brutality inflicted by the Roman overlords on a political prisoner who challenged the religious practices and expectations of the Jewish hierachy.   The teardrop from heaven is incredibly moving.

When Salvador Dali painted Christ of Saint John of the Cross (1951), Jesus was depicted without wounds on a Cross that floated above the Earth. Dali listened to the color of his dream that indicated that depicting the nails, blood and crown of thorns would mar the image.  Dali wanted the emphasize the Trinity with the positioning of Jesus hanging on the Cross to represent the nucleus of the atom.  Clearly, the cross hovering over the Earth shows the cosmic significance of the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a modern manner, Dali celebrates Eastern Christian Church’s emphasis mystagogy of Jesus’ Divine Sacrifice by death on the cross.

But during a Tenebrae service, the faithful were reminded that unlike even in classical depictions of Golgatha (the place of the skull) where Jesus was crucified, the crosses of Calvary were not necessarily hung that high in the air.  Since those being executed had their feet nailed bound to prevent them from moving as they slowly suffocated on their crosses, they may have been only a couple of feet above the ground.

Such crosses would serve the Roman overlords as tangible examples of what happens to brigands, rabble rousers and revolutionaries. The low positioning would allow most passers-by to look into the eyes of the executed. This makes the taunts from the crowd and Jesus’ words of forgiveness all the more remarkable.

It is easy to gloss over how the expiation of mans’ sins required a blood sacrifice to seal the New Covenant. By cognitively sounding the Strepitus over Christ’s crucifixion, we may “Ecce homo”.

While some ears may find it as painful as the Stepitus, the Christ’s Passion has been told by Glenn Beck using a motif of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon  (1973).  Whether we use pop parables, cinematic accounts, scriptural studies, communal worship or prayerful personal reflections, it is worthy to reflect on how God’s only begotten Son chose to be the suffering servant to right the relationship between God and mankind.
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Blog Blitz Big Clicks Winners: Speramus, Handmaid with Love, Equipping Catholic Families, Joy of 9, A living Garden

Welcome to the
2013 Catholic Blogger Link-Up Blitz.
Announcing the Big Clicks Catholic Bloggers
for March 2013!
In the category of…

Readings and Reflections,
the Big Clicks Catholic Blogger is:
Speramus (We Hope!) for the post
Sede Vacante Benedict XVI Leaves Vatican

Liturgical Calendar Crafts and Homeschooling,
the Big Clicks Catholic Bloggers are:
Handmaid with Love for the post
Cardinals & Conclave and
Equipping Catholic Families for the post
Guess Who? The 116 Cardinals!

Catechism and Apologetics,
the Big Clicks Catholic Blogger is
Joy of Nine9 for the post
The Fire of God

Catholic Family Journal and Random Ramblings,
the Big Clicks Catholic Blogger is
A Living Garden for the post
Holy Week 1953

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Monica is a wife, Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter who thinks it’s cool to be Catholic! Check out the Arma Dei Shoppe for solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith and subscribe to Equipping Catholic Families for family-building and Faith-centered crafts!

Watch and pray with Jesus–every day

File:Rafael, Predella Colonna.jpg

“Could you not watch one hour with me?” Jesus asked His disciples (MT. 26:40). On Good Friday, our hearts and minds turn towards the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus began to suffer for us. He was abandoned by those who loved Him, even after pleading with them 3 times to watch and pray with Him. We hear the call on this holy day. We go to venerate the Cross. We watch “Jesus of Nazareth.” We read the account of the Passion. We take time to pray.

But what about the rest of the year? Do you abandon Jesus as soon as Easter Sunday is over? Is daily prayer low on your list of priorities? Are you “too busy” to spend time with the One who suffered and died for you?

Resolve today to commit (or re-commit) yourself to prayer. You may not be able to watch for one hour, but how about half an hour? If that’s too much to start with, try 15 minutes. Read from a book of meditations. Gaze at a holy picture that fills your heart with love for God. Think of all Christ did for you and thank Him for it.

Make a habit of prayer. You won’t be sorry you did. It will change your life.

See also Why should you pray?   and 7 Ways to make time for prayer

Spy Wednesday Tenebrae with the Suspcious Cheese Lords

Mount St. Sepulchre in Washington, DC is a Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. The Church itself neo-Byzantine design by Roman architect Aristide Leonari in 1899.  The church looks akin to  St. Sophia (Hagia  Sophia) in Constantinople (Istanbul).

The interior of the church resembles a five fold Crusader Cross of Jerusalem. The large bronze baldachin is is supported by columns which depicts the twelve Apostles. The interior is decorated with the Ave Maria and scenes from the life of Mary.

The Friary is the home of Franciscan Commissariat in the nation’s capital, and they continue their 800 year tradition of supporting the Holy Land. Part of the charism of the Commissariat seems to be a special celebration of Passiontide.

The Tenebrae service which is celebrated on Spy Wednesday is is resplendent in faith and history, as is incorporates a cappella medieval pieces sung by the Suspicious Cheese Lords (Suscipe Domine Queso).

While they are a consummate choir, the Suspicious Cheese Lords need to practice their polyphonic songs in situ at the Franciscan Monastery.

The Suspicious Cheese Lords in rehearsal for the Tenebrae Service.

Even though the Suspicious Cheese Lords ordinarily sing early music works, one year they chose to perform Arvo Part’s De Profundis (1980).

Lighting the Candelabra for the Tenebrae Service.

Extinguishing the candles during the Tenebrae Service.

 The closing of the Tenebrae service is marked by a retreat of the single candle into the crypt.  As the vault to the catacombs is slammed, it sets off an unnerving Strepitus, meant to symbolize the earth convulsing at the death of the the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.

Joseph, the dreamer by Clyde Robert BullaIn past posts, I have written on Peter Rabbit and the Fall of Man, Benjamin Bunny and the narrow gate, and the Epiphany in My Side of the Mountain. I am making this into a series called Finding God in children’s literature. Before posting more on fiction, I want to examine how to find Jesus in the Old Testament. Let’s look at typology with the story of Joseph in Genesis.

Typology finds the things, people, or events in the Bible that prefigure more significant things, people, or events in salvation history. Most types are in the Old Testament. Most anti-types (what the types prefigure) are in the New Testament. Fisheaters.com has a fuller explanation of typology.

Learn more about Joseph and Jesus.

Can you become a saint by sheer willpower?

File:Thomas Aquinas in Stained Glass.jpgFr. Thomas Dubay used to tell this anecdote: The sister of St. Thomas Aquinas once asked him, “How can I become a saint?”

St. Thomas answered, “Will it.”

This story came back to me recently. Trying to accept with peace whatever happens during my day has taught me something: I don’t always want to do God’s will. When I ruin the dinner I’m making my family, for example, and according to my Lenten resolution I must say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” I sometimes say first, “Jesus, I don’t want to trust in you. I don’t want to let go of my anger and frustration.” Or, “Jesus, I trust in you–sort of.”

The words “I trust in you” are a prayer. They aren’t magic. They remind me to trust in God and ask for His help. But they can’t make me trust when I don’t want to. I must open my heart to grace. I must will it.

Continue reading.

Meet Pope Francis (for kids and their parents)

Parents: I have written a short biography of Pope Francis for children. Scroll down to find definitions of vocabulary words, links, downloads, and other teaching ideas. 

“Habemus Papam!” the protodeacon announced to the waiting crowd in St. Peter’s Square on March 13, 2013. “We have a pope! The most eminent and most reverend Lord, Lord Jorge Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Bergoglio, Who takes for himself the name of Francis.”

The people cheered when they heard the new pope would be Pope Francis. But they also asked themselves, Who is Cardinal Bergoglio? Where is he from? What kind of pope will he be?
Continue reading.

Prayer for the Petrine Ministry

Lord Jesus, through the one sacrifice of the New Covenant, you have truly become the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. But unto us you have given shepherds to teach, guide, sanctify and lead.
You had chosen Simon-Peter as your Vicar and Governor of the apostles, therefore, may his successors grow in love and submission to you, O Lord, and may they continue to guide your Church in steadfast faith over any stormy waters which lie ahead.
– Amen.

~ Rachel M. Gohlman is a convert to the Catholic faith from Evangelical Protestantism. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Bradley University, Peoria and is the author of the “Misadventures of Cardinal Fratelli” book series.

Checking Out Pope Francis

After paying respects to the Salvation of the Roman People icon at the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore  (a.k.a. Our Lady of the Snows), Pope Francis’ ecclesiastical entourage took an unexpected detour.  
The newly elected Argentine pope asked his driver to circle back to the Domus Internationalis Paulus VI,  so that Pope Francis could collect his luggage.  After he collected his things, the prelate went to the front desk of the Vatican run boarding house to thank the staff.  Then Pope Francis insisted upon paying his bill. 

Most people might have understood had the Pope had.left the Church pick up the 85 Euro a night tab for a complete pension,  he insisted on trying to pay his way to set a good  example of  what priests and bishops should do.  It is unclear how much Pope Francis actually paid. Moreover, it is humorous but dubious that he claimed that he checked in under a different name. 
This pied-de-terre episode certainly solidifies Pope Francis’ reputation for frugality and fraternity with common folks.  But it may symbolize some of the new Pontiff’s ambitions to challenge the comfortable situations of the Curia and dispel the anti-clerical slight that the Church lives high on the hog on their parishioners’ tithes. 
The early trip to Santa Maria Maggiore may also herald another important aspect of Pope Francis’s papacy.  New Popes are expected to visit all five of Rome’s patriarchal basilicas early in their reign.  Moreover, many recent pontiffs, especially Pope Blessed John Paul II, have major Marian devotions.     
                                                
It is telling, however,  the on the morning of his first full day in the chair of St. Peter that Pope Francis visits  Salus Populi Romani and also brings flowers.  This icon is of particular significance to Romans. For example, when Rome was going to fall from Axis control in World War II, Adolph Hitler vowed to bomb the Eternal City to smithereens.  Pope Pius XII arranged a procession of the Byzantine Salus Populi Romani through the streets and miraculously a fog enveloped the city, so the angry Nazi bombs only fell on a Roman cemetery.  This humble act continues Pope Francis identification with his new Roman Diocese.  

10 Ways to keep your kids Catholic

Watching TV


Watching the events of the last few weeks unfold, I have been struck anew by how many former Catholics there are in the news media. None of them have a clue about what it means to be Catholic. That, coupled with this post at 8 Kids and a Business, got me thinking about how to keep our kids Catholic. I decided to create a list.

Please note: my children are still preteens, so I cannot say, “It worked for us.” But I have done some research on the matter, and observed other Catholic families. I’ve often wondered how my husband and his siblings all remained good Catholics, while some of my siblings did not. I almost left the Church myself in my 20s. I also know that a parent can do everything right, and his children can still choose to leave the Church. We have freewill. This list is not meant for pointing fingers or accusing other parents of failing. It’s meant to help those who are raising their kids now and want to do the best they can.

View the list.