Awake O Sleeper…

  
From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday

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The Lord descends into hell

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

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Be Open

—Guest Post by Sheryl Cahoy, parishioner and Stewardship Coordinator for the parish.

Be open…..I still tell myself that every day.  It’s been almost 15 years since God opened my eyes to a journey and path that He had for me.  He has known about the journey for my entire life.  The thing was, I didn’t really know Him very well or what the path looked like. Oh, I knew that I wanted to be Catholic and the basics of the Catholic Faith that I had been taught and practiced as best I knew how.  But I didn’t know the extent of His plans or the Joy that He wanted for me.  I didn’t know the depth of His love, the fullness of his power, and the patience that He was calling me with.  Until one day the right circumstances were in place and I was given a glimpse of Him and something different.  That day was followed by other glimpses that have slowly opened my heart to want more, to know Him better, and to try and listen and follow His path for me.  That is the journey of faith that we each have to walk through at our own pace.  

One of those profound glimpses or “God moments” happened for me during the Triduum Liturgy about 10 years ago.  The short story is that someone planted a seed in my head and heart that I should attend Holy Thursday Mass.  I can’t even tell you who invited me for certain or why;  maybe it was my mother’s voicemail message, the priest’s homily, or a good friend that was going.  But God used that little invitation to move me.  He saw how deep I had fallen into despair and how much I needed Him.  Even as much as I thought I was giving him my pain, fear, and guilt, I was still trying to manage it all on my own.  He heard my inward cries for help even when I couldn’t voice them to myself or those around me.  And He answered me with the power of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to move my heart to be open to that invitation.  (Not surprising that as I write this, in my head I’m singing that song “There is power in the name of Jesus…”)  So I went. That night I encountered Jesus at the Altar washing the feet of His disciples, looking at me and asking me to let Him wash away all the “dirt” I was carrying. I went home confused and not sure what that meant or what to do next.  But I went back on Good Friday.  And there Jesus was again, waiting for me at the foot of the cross that we were to venerate.  This time He was begging me to let Him carry my cross; to let Him die for me. This time my broken heart was truly opened and I let Him in to begin healing me.  

About a year ago I was asked to speak at a parent meeting as a witness to where God is working in my life. In no way do I feel worthy or qualified to speak about God, but experiences had been happening for me and I felt God was calling me again to something more.  Through Him, I was able to share that Holy Week experience and the journey God was walking me through the past few years.  What I realized most from that experience is that I am not perfect and that He doesn’t need me to be perfect to Love me.  I am more aware that He continues to call and lead me toward Him, and at times I have responded.  At other times I have not been open to God’s plan or flat out rejected Him because of fear or my own pride.  I know that although I love Jesus and want to accept his gift of Love and salvation for me, that because I am still a sinner I will fail Him and others sometimes.  

Yet I cannot “unknow” what He has shown me and the sense of peace and joy I get from making Jesus the center of my life.  I want that for everyone, so I feel compelled to share His love and invitation.  I also know that I cannot change anyone’s journey, speed it up or slow it down.  I can only be a witness to what God has shown me and what he has in store for each of us when we are open to it.

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So today,  I invite each of you that happen to read this to come to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil Liturgy.  It is truly One Liturgy, but come whenever and wherever you can and Jesus will be there waiting for YOU.  It is the triple threat against Satan’s lies that continue to lure us away from God and what He wants for us.  I will pray that the Holy Spirit will move you to say Yes to the invitation and that your heart will be open to whatever God has for you. Be open, do not be afraid; He wants to give you everything.

 

Were you there? Will you be there?

Last week in the homily I mentioned the Church of the the Holy Sepulcher. This church contains the empty tomb of Jesus and the spot where he was crucified. The picture below shows the altar placed above the spot of crucifixion. The pilgrim beneath the altar is touching the actual spot. You can see the rock formations on the side of the altar. Imagine touching the place where your savior died for you.

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This picture is taken from the “upper room” where Jesus had the last supper with his disciples. It’s not the actual room but is believed to be the physical site on which that room was situated. Here Jesus instituted the Eucharist we celebrate daily. It was here that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Do you let him wash your feet?

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Lastly, here is the empty tomb of our Lord Jesus.His body was laying on the slab to the lower left. Pilgrims are able to celebrate Mass here, on this very spot.

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This coming week we will enter into the mysteries that happened at these places. The Holy Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil) is a continuous liturgy that, wait for it, – Makes present – the saving power of Jesus. Lent has prepared us not just to remember but encounter Jesus’ suffering, death, and glorious Resurrection.

YOU ARE INVITED to set everything aside in order to encounter Jesus in the most important moment of the whole Christian year. Please come. We can’t wait to be with you.

HE. IS. HERE.

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