Opus Dei, April Letter from the Prelature

Today Holy Week begins, the most important week of the whole year, because we commemorate the central events of our salvation. Would that each of us may live it—or better yet, “relive” it—personally, accompanying Jesus in the scenes that the liturgy places before our eyes. With Saint Josemaría, I ask God for the grace that we may all be more deeply “amazed” as we contemplate these Mysteries.

During the first days, with our Lord’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, it is easy to walk alongside Jesus on his frequent comings and goings from Bethany to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem to Bethany. Let us take up the Holy Gospel and put ourselves into those scenes, so as to accompany him very closely and walk at his pace in everything.

Stop to contemplate the hours that he spends in the Temple, trying to win over the scribes and Pharisees who, in those moments, were scheming only to destroy him. But Jesus does not take into account the apparent “failure” of his invitations to conversion; right up to the final moment, as we see in the scenes at Golgotha, he hopes that souls will open themselves to grace and thus receive salvation. He teaches us to be insistent in our personal apostolate, even though it may sometimes seem that we see no results. The fruit will always come.

Just before his passion, our Lord relates a parable that reflects, in a special way, the zeal for souls that consumes him: the parable of the king who “gave a marriage feast for his son and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come” (Mt 22:2-3). It is easy to imagine the longing in Christ’s most loving Heart as he spoke those words. And we are always struck by his insistence: “I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast” (Mt 22:4).

The same often happens today as well. If we truly strive to identify ourselves with Christ, to be alter Christus, ipse Christus, it is only logical, as Saint Josemaría used to insist, that Jesus’ life be reproduced, in one way or another, in our own. “The scene of the parable is being repeated: it is the same as with those people who were invited to the wedding feast. Some are afraid, others have their own concerns, many … make up stories or give silly excuses.

“They put up resistance. That is why they feel the way they do: fed up, all in a muddle, listless, bored, bitter. And yet how easy it is to accept the divine invitation at every moment, and live a happy life, full of joy! (Furrow, n. 67). [This is a point of my own spiritual pain for others].

Our reaction, like that of Saint Josemaría, has to be to not let up but to grow in our dedication to the apostolate, fully convinced that no effort is ever lost, despite human resistance.

Let us be diligent specifically in our “apostolate of Confession.” Last year, at this time, the Pope recalled that “for a fruitful celebration of Easter, the Church asks the faithful in these days to receive the Sacrament of Penance, which is like a sort of death and resurrection for each one of us…. Let us be reconciled by Christ,” the Holy Father added, “to enjoy more intensely the joy that he communicates with his resurrection. The forgiveness which Christ gives to us in the Sacrament of Penance is a source of interior and exterior peace and makes us apostles of peace in a world where divisions, suffering and the tragedies of injustice, hatred and violence, unfortunately continue” (General Audience, April 12, 2006).

In the second part of the week we will celebrate the Paschal Triduum, the heart of the liturgical year. Let us put ourselves fully into the liturgical ceremonies during these days. On Holy Thursday, during the Mass In Cena Domini, let us thank Jesus for the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood, and its perpetuation to the end of time. Let us accompany him in the Altars of Repose, where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved until Good Friday afternoon, in memory of the hours of solitude that Jesus endured, first in the Garden of Olives, and then in the farcical trial on that sad and sorrowful night. You should have the conviction that our vigil close to the Tabernacle in some way brought consolation to Jesus, true God and true man, during those bitter hours.

John Paul II, to whom the Church and the Work owe so much, was a passionate lover of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: he was drawn by the Tabernacle and invited us to go there frequently. His arrival in heaven, two years ago, must have been as quick as his discovery of a Tabernacle during his apostolic visits and trips.

On Good Friday, when we commemorate the death of our Lord, besides fulfilling, in an exemplary way, the fast and abstinence prescribed for that day—reminding and assisting others to do so as well—let us generously seek out small mortifications during those hours. We can offer them in reparation for our sins and those of others, and in petition for the graces that so many souls, thousands upon thousands, need in order to decide to follow Jesus closely. Let us have no fear of the Cross, my daughters and sons, nor of the criticism of those who are pharisaically scandalized when they see Christians lovingly embrace that holy wood, on which our Lord put to death our own death and ransomed us for eternal life. Do we truly love sacrifice? Are we worried about what others may think?

On Holy Saturday we recall Jesus’ burial. Let us stay very close to our Lady, with the apostles and the holy women who accompanied him. They did not know then that, after those hours of darkness, the new day of the Resurrection was to dawn. But we now do know that this is so. Let us be filled with optimism and hope.

After the Sacred Triduum Easter time begins, which represents the future life that we look forward to receiving from God, and of which we already have a foretaste in hope, especially since in the Holy Eucharist we are offered a pledge and anticipation of our promised eternal happiness. Do we often think of heaven, especially when a setback comes, in order to immediately recover our supernatural peace and joy? Do we frequently go to the Tabernacle, to spend time with Jesus and nourish our theological life? The early Christians represented the virtue of hope by the symbol of an anchor. This signified that beyond the changing circumstances of earthly existence, our security is based on Jesus, who has entered into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father in his Most Holy Humanity, ever living to intercede for us (cfr. Hb 4:14; 7:25).

“Christ is alive. This is the great truth which fills our faith with meaning. Jesus, who died on the cross, has risen. He has triumphed over death; he has overcome sorrow, anguish and the power of darkness,” wrote Saint Josemaría. And he continued: “Christ is alive. Jesus is the Emmanuel: God with us. His resurrection shows us that God does not abandon his own. He promised he would not: ‘Can a woman forget her baby that is still unweaned, pity no longer the son she bore in her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you’ (Is 49:14-15). And he has kept his promise” (Christ is passing by, n. 102).

In his recent post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, Benedict XVI reminds us that “especially in the liturgy of the Eucharist, we are given a real foretaste of the eschatological fulfillment for which every human being and all creation are destined (cf. Rom 8:19ff.). Man is created for that true and eternal happiness which only God’s love can give. But our wounded freedom would go astray were it not already able to experience something of that future fulfillment. Moreover, to move forward in the right direction, we all need to be guided towards our final goal. That goal is Christ himself, the Lord who conquered sin and death, and who makes himself present to us in a special way in the Eucharistic celebration. Even though we remain ‘aliens and exiles’ in this world (1 Pet 2:11), through faith we already share in the fullness of risen life. The Eucharistic banquet, by disclosing its powerful eschatological dimension, comes to the aid of our freedom as we continue our journey” (n. 30).

Jesus is the invisible but real Companion who is always at our side and who awaits us in the Tabernacle, where he shows us how close he is to us. How our days would change if we truly had at every moment the sureness, filled with faith, hope and love, that inspired Saint Josemaría! Let us go trustingly to his intercession, so that he will spur us to be truly Eucharistic men and women. On the 23rd, the anniversary of his first Holy Communion, we will have an excellent opportunity to do so. Let us tell Jesus each day, “Lord, I love you,” and strive to show it with deeds.

Let us pray a lot for the Pope, both for him and for his intentions. The burden that lies on his shoulders is a very heavy one. Divine providence counts on our prayers and sacrifices to give him strength and make his words effective. On the upcoming April 16th, he will turn 80, and the 19th will be the second anniversary of his election. Let us thank God for the gift he has granted the Church in the person of Benedict XVI.

We all recall how at the Mass inaugurating his pontificate, the Holy Father asked Catholics for the help of their prayer. And in 2006, when commemorating the first anniversary of his pontificate, he remarked: “I feel more and more that alone I could not carry out this task, this mission. But I also feel that you are carrying it with me: thus, I am in a great communion and together we can go ahead with the Lord’s mission…I offer very warm thanks to all those who in various ways support me from close at hand or follow me from afar in spirit with their affection and their prayers. I ask each one to continue to support me, praying to God to grant that I may be a gentle and firm Pastor of his Church (General Audience, April 19, 2006).

Let us examine in God’s presence how our union with the Pope is going: a unity of prayers, of affections and of resolutions. Do we pray a lot, every day, for the intentions of the Holy Father? Do we offer up sacrifices and renunciations that cost us a lot? Do we ask other people to pray and offer up periods of work and small mortifications for the Roman Pontiff? Do we spread his teachings, which are the doctrine of Christ, and defend them when they are attacked in the media or in private conversations?

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Day’s End

Concrete and civilization prevents timeless beauty
Alone in a crowded & jammed freeway
Mismatch of travel and dreams
Seek senseless stability in everchanging life

Fun, intrigue, & disdain await thee in mail box
Active mind, tired eyes at day’s end
Afore moon and stars chance to twinkle thy head rests on pillow
Mind travels merge with dreams


(c) 2007

A Letter to the Deceased

Dear Seung-Hui Cho,

I don’t know you, nor you I and we are unlikely to have even met in this life you had until last Monday. If I could have met you somewhere between death and meeting God, I’d have liked to say a few things to you.

Christ taught us and His apostles:

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” And the King shall answer and say unto them, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” Then shall they also answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” Then shall he answer them, saying, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. Matthew 25:32-46

Now that you have met our Glorious Father in Heaven upon your death and that of your college peers, has He asked you “Why do you kill me?”

I do not know your standing with God our Father, nor your ultimate for it is not mine to conjecture or know. However, I pray for you, for your actions are so tragic and against the life that God entrusted to you, and that which he entrusted to your fellow students and professors. The Lord made you, and He knows your innermost thoughts and being, indeed, He formed you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139). I am sorry that you never knew this, or if you knew it, it was only known to you intellectually and not spiritually.

Secondly, if people hurt you and it stems from the Evil one, surely should you not let it live? True, judgement is not yours to give, but it will also be their burden. Practice of Evil leads to Evil consuming the life, thus if anyone were against you and hurt you, they should have lived. Let people live with the wrongs that they have done, for judgment and punishment more powerful than what you can ever give shall fall upon them. Additionally, if they hurt you verbally, emotionally, the pain that you feel is long lasting, but the pain of a bullet that is life ending is briefer than what you feel. Better to leave it to God who is more just than we, and that they potentially get eternal fire and you eternal refuge, but you have done the more Evil act.

Did no one tell you? Or did you not listen with your heart and soul?

Abortion a Motherly Act?

Abortion a Motherly Act?
written by
Judie Brown, American Life League

How strange it is for me to receive an editorial from The Times in Great Britain on the day after more than 30 people were gunned down at Virginia Tech. Strange because the title of the commentary is “Abortion: why it’s the ultimate motherly act.”

Imagine a woman writing about the murderous act of abortion as the motherly thing to do. How very disturbing; how very understandable in a world where so many women have surrendered their motherhood on the surgical table of an abortion mill.

The writer of this article, Caitlin Moran, is such a mother … the mother of a dead child. Perhaps she cannot live with her choice and so she fantasizes about the “good deed” she performed.

Perhaps reality is too frightening for her. She writes, “If women are, by biology, commanded to host, shelter, nurture and protect life, why should they not be empowered to end life too?”

Moran has two living children and, she tells the reader, she aborted a third child last year. She says it was one of the least difficult decisions of her life. She says she was simply too tired to have a baby. She also says, “I didn’t want another child, in the same way that I don’t suddenly want to move to Canada or buy a horse.”

Need I quote further? She is telling us that a child and his or her fate is on a par with buying a horse. How much more dehumanizing can you get? I guess, for those of us who live in Virginia, we know part of that answer: 34 years of murdering the innocent in utero was bound to have consequences.

Violence does beget violence.

Virginia Tech Shooting Tragedy

Copied&Pasted directly from Xanga Webpage.

I think that I may seem callous about the brief mention I made of the Virginia Tech shooting yesterday. I do care, and deeply. However at the time, I wasn’t aware of the facts, of the death toll, and the situation, as I hadn’t been online more than long enough to check my email and write a few sentences here on Xanga.

I think it is disgusting, disturbing, and absolutely horrible that anyone would consider opening fire on anyone else outside of a war zone (and even in war, I’d err on the side of diplomacy first). Personally, I want to keep my statements clean and precise. I don’t want to make erroneous and global statements such as “this is happening with increasing frequency” because it’s not. Nor do I want to say that “it’s due to violent video games and crime dramas on the silver and small screens” because it’s not. Nor do I want to say that we “should get rid of the second amendment because it leads to things like this;” while the ability to get guns does increase the likelihood of gun-related deaths, a large majority of those crimes are in poor neighborhoods, accidental shootings, and such. If I had time (i.e., did not have 2 10-page term papers due next week) I’d spout off statistics, show research articles, and the FBI’s crime data for the last several years regarding violence, guns, and the decreasing number of gun violence among adolescents and young adults (18-24).

Perhaps one concern that resonates largely with me, is that of my fellow college students here at USC and across the nation: the lack of prompt and timely response of campus police and safety officials to assess the situation and lock the campus down earlier rather than later. USC is an open-campus. We do have gated entrances, but they don’t close until late at night, and even then at least one gate is open 24 hours, 365 days because people need to get in and out of campus for various reasons (i.e., go home from 24hr library, go to the hospital, etc). We don’t have safety officials checking each person who walks onto campus, that would be impossible. In most cases, this is just like any other college campus. We’re relatively safe, and we’re not actually located at the epicenter of South Central Los Angeles; we’re closer to the nice and safer area with the sports areana, the Los Angeles Downtown business section (including a huge jewelry district), and museums. These businesses don’t exist in the more rundown areas of the city.

It’s all well and fine to lock down campus and sequester students in their dorm rooms, unless you’re a commuter. There are more than 4,900 undergraduate commuters and nearly all graduate students here at USC are commuters as well from as far away as Chino or Newport Beach (2+ hours one-way trip). USC might think they have it all planned out, but I as a commuter have not been made aware of what they would do concerning my safety. I don’t know where I would go. I often don’t have more than $20 on me, so I could only feed myself for so long on campus if an emergency such as a shooting or an earthquake should occur while I am on campus. I have not been made aware of what provisions would be made for commuters in such circumstances. I’m not sure many other students who live on or near campus are aware themselves of the univeristy’s plans for emergencies either.

What about other students? I’m guessing you feel and think along the same general lines?

~*~

Regarding Daniel’s comment: I don’t think something like this can be planned for, and I’d certainly swap staying in a dorm room waiting for a killer to go away for commuting on another LA freeway any day.

I had a jumble of thoughts in my mind this morning as I commuted to campus, and I just kept thinking that USC wouldn’t bother to have thought of our safety yesterday if this tragedy had not occured. It was the same when Columbine occured. My teachers and principle did not care about my friends and I getting bullied day in and day out (I’m not exaggerating here) until after Columbine’s shooting occured in 1998. By the time my teachers bothered to care, the damage was done. I had been depressed, I had been suicidal and no one gave a fuck, because its just “teasing” its just “fun and games.” I understand the hindsight is 20/20. Let that not be your excuse.

Events like this cannot be planned for, but precautions should be taken before hand, not afterwards. It’s foresight that would save us all from a lot of grief and pain