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Easter In A Time Of Pandemic – “No Coward Soul Is Mine” 04/12/20

Matthew 28:6 “He is not here; for he has risen”

Facing Our Immortality Support Group

Time: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MDT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm EDT)

  1. Call Uber Conference at 720-735-7025 or
  2. Online at uberconference.com/facingourimmortality

Opening Prayer:

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Easter in a Time of Pandemic – “No Coward Soul is Mine”

It’s hard to overstate the crushing trauma and demoralization, the numbing shock, and the paralyzing fear, the apostles experienced as they watched the sufferings and death of Jesus unfold before them in a quick succession of sudden and violent events. Once the betrayal was set in motion, their entire understanding and expectations were brutally assaulted and swiftly destroyed in a matter of hours. So overwhelming was the Paschal Mystery for the closest friends of Jesus that they could not stay with Him as He went through it. St. John, the beloved disciple managed, not on his own, but by relying on the only one who had any courage and faith left: Our Blessed Mother, who had also gathered a handful of grieving women around her.


As the events played out, darkness descended and stalked the followers of the Nazarene, now dead and locked inside a dark tomb behind a monstrous, immovable stone with Soldiers assigned to keep it sealed. An eerie stillness, a strange, suffocating breathlessness, unlike anything anyone had ever known, blanketed the whole earth and penetrated their own hearts, so there was no escape from it. Hope and faith beat feebly in the spirits and souls of those, (save one Woman), closest to the horrific Death of the Anointed One, the Messiah who was going to save the Chosen People. The whole world groaned, “Foundations once destroyed, what can the just man do?” Ps11


Jesus’ followers, who had known oppression, persecution, and exile in their history as a people, who had been separated from the temple and the worship of the One True God, were not ready. They were shocked by these events which had been foretold. And they were afraid. Though Jesus had tried to warn and prepare them, they did not understand Him deeply enough to hold onto the center of His entire message. We don’t understand either. We, too, have difficulty holding onto the truth about the Cross in our lives.


Despite this, the Resurrection of Jesus takes place. In the midst of trauma, fear, isolation, grave uncertainty, and a feeling of profound abandonment on the part of the disciples/apostles, Jesus rises. He definitively conquers death and wins for us freedom from sin, and the glory of everlasting life.


This Easter will be like that first Easter in many ways: we will be locked behind our doors, afraid, protecting ourselves, stupefied by what has so suddenly happened, mourning the loss of Our Lord Who has been taken away and sealed in a tomb whose entrance is barred to us.


This year there will be no public witness to the sufferings and death of Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer. Easter will not be communally celebrated with processions of light, incense, resounding notes of alleluia, flowers and bells ringing in the colors of spring and newness of life. Yet, Jesus, Who rose in an instant in the darkness of the night giving way to the dawn, will walk right through the barricades of fear, of unbelief, and unfaithfulness by first walking through our material protections: tombs, doors, and the roads we take away from the “awful” events of our lives.


He will do this for us this year just as He did on the very first Easter. We will not have the joy of physically celebrating together the most beautiful liturgy of the whole year, nor of receiving Jesus sacramentally. But this will not stop Jesus. There will be nothing to disguise or distract us from His presence if we have the hope of Easter in our eyes, and are truly yearning to see Him as the holy women did on Easter morning.


Jesus will spend the next forty days, strengthening us in our faith, just as He did, starting with Mary Magdalene, who didn’t recognize Him because she was not expecting to see Him. Peter, and the rest of the Apostles, assailed by shame and doubts will also need direct evidence before their faith is strengthened. But what joy then engulfs them when their eyes are opened, and they see beyond the limited appearances and understanding of this world.


This crisis can deepen our faith in the same way. Jesus has no barriers and is held back by nothing. He wants fearless warriors who charge right into the face of evil to conquer it in the name of the Risen One Who lives forever, no more to die. This is what the apostles became. This is what we too can become if we trust.

Emily Bronte expresses something of this in her poem: “No Coward Soul Is Mine” “There is no room for death, Nor atom that his might could render void; Thou – Thou art Being and Breath, And what Thou art may never be destroyed.”

Knowing God does not abandon His people ever, in exile, in suffering, in death and dying, we believe Our Risen Lord is always with us and promises us His glory if we persevere. Only one other person has walked through these kinds of times without faltering, and no others have done it without her. We ask Mary to attend us, teach us and keep us safe both in faith and from the invisible enemy looking for entry. We pray this virus die a timely death and forge us into great saints in the meantime in the midst of our hurt, our sorrows, fears and grief.


May we experience this Easter what St. Augustine so beautifully exclaims: “In my deepest wound I saw your glory and it dazzled me.”


Questions for Reflection:

  1. We are much like the original disciples. Who do you identify with? St. Peter? St. John? St. Thomas? The Holy Women?
  2. How has your faith been challenged during this time of pandemic?
  3. What is the real message of the Resurrection and how are you going to live it?
  4. What is your greatest sorrow at this time? What do you hope for and look forward to?

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Updates

The Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday | National Catholic Reporter

The liturgy of Holy Thursday, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, is our celebration of the paschal mystery.

The church understands these days as being one extended liturgy, not three separate cele…
— Read on www.ncronline.org/news/spirituality/easter-triduum-holy-thursday

Peace and Blessings to you this Easter Triduum.

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Updates

Uplifting And Joyful 🌸🙏🌸

www.facebook.com/211634246229111/posts/592142798178252/

From Fr. Sam Medley, SOLT. This is Monday’s talk for Holy Week. I truly enjoyed his talk, particularly because we are in a pandemic.

Peace and Grace!

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Updates

Prayers For You

www.youtube.com/channel/UCsfMYKMmefjiV0XpirIK6Sw

Dear friends, we pray for your health during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We pray for those who are sick and for the repose of those sweet souls who sadly succumbed to the virus, and for their grieving loved ones. We pray for first responders and health care workers who risk their lives to save others. We pray for the priests and all religious sisters and brothers who are offering prayers, sacraments and consolation to members of their communities, especially those priests providing last rites for the dying in hospitals.

Above is a link to a new YouTube channel for Domus Trinitatis, DT Reflections. We pray the messages found within these videos offer hope to you during this time.

God Bless you

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Updates

Emotions And Truth: Spiritual Exercise 03/09/20

Facing Our Immortality Support Group

Time: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MDT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm EDT)

  1. Call Uber Conference at 720-735-7025 or
  2. Online at uberconference.com/facingourimmortality

Opening Prayer:

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Emotions and Truth

Before the first-ever State visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Great Britain in September of 2010, the British media voiced opposition to the visit with increasing hostility, indirectly encouraging petition protests and civil dissent among the people. Pope Benedict had been known as Ratzinger the Rottweiler during his tenure as Head of the Congregation for Faith and Doctrine in the Vatican, because of his firm stand on the traditional teachings of the Church. Rottweilers, of course, summon all sorts of connotations in the minds of ordinary people: stubborn, dominant, aggressive, territorial, bullying, strong, loyal, etc. All together off-putting to say the least.

An amazing thing happened though once the media, and the country, came into direct contact with the man they had conceptualized and labeled a Rottweiler. He “turned out to be a shy, warm and frail 83-year-old who perked up every time his security detail allowed him to greet people, especially youngsters and his own generation.” Outspoken journalists who had vehemently opposed the visit were completely won over by the Pope and gushed: “Ratzinger the rottweiler transformed into Benny the bunny,” “We all want to cuddle up to him and get him to bless our babies.” (AFP News Wires, Sept. 2010) The real man won out over the fabricated image that had triggered such powerful emotions nationwide.

This illustrates an area that is particularly dangerous today. It is the tendency to conflate strong emotion with the truth. If I feel strongly about something, it must be true. The trend toward gauging truth by how one feels or has been made to feel about something and not by an objective consideration of facts or evidence produces all sorts of crazy, irrational judgments, and behavior, which once would have been self-evident but today seem lost on those formed under a hierarchy of values that places feelings at the top. Feelings become more important than truth or considerations of right and wrong. Various elements of society are keenly aware of this and intentionally manipulate people by deliberately inciting certain emotions. They understand emotions can be very contagious, and if they can move even a small group toward a certain goal, it will spread incredibly quickly.

A prominent example of this is found in the way emotion was used to change people’s views of and opinions regarding abortion. Before it’s legalization in the US in December of 1971, any doctor who practiced such procedures was ostracized by the mainstream medical community. Abortion was known, at the level of conscience, universally, to be the destruction of a human baby. The affirmation of science (which is there), was not needed. The issue of the humanity of the baby was not in question. Yet, that became lost because of a genius strategy on the part of those working to legalize it.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who was one of these key players and who later converted to Catholicism and worked the rest of his life to undo the legalization of abortion which he had fostered, explained it this way. He said they used three main tactics in their work and the third tactic was by far the one that accelerated them to their goal the fastest.

The first tactic was to falsify statistics. So, they simply inflated the numbers for back-alley abortions to make it seem that this was a national crisis that had to be addressed. Second, they set out to discredit the Catholic Church as patriarchal, sexist and old-fashioned because they knew that is where their main opposition would come from. But the third, and most masterful strategy, according to Nathanson, was to couch abortion in terms of women’s rights. Once you talked about abortion as a woman’s right, you could easily incite indignation if any opposition to a “woman’s right to choose” was expressed. Rational debate was no longer possible because once the emotions were running high, thinking things through clearly and calmly debating them, failed. Feelings ruled out facts. And the immediate stance of those emotionally swayed to favor abortion became accusatory: You are waging a war on women! You are violating our freedom and our right to choose what to do with our own bodies, etc. It became all about “me” and not about the little life entrusted so intimately to the woman.

Dr. Nathanson himself was finally converted when he deliberately filmed, via ultrasound, an abortion. The image of the little baby trying to escape from the instruments dismembering him, the shocking encounter with the truth of what he was doing, was enough to make him stop on the spot and to spend the rest of his life trying to make restitution for what he had done.

The crucial point to understand is, discovering truth is not the goal of the emotions. They were not given to us for that purpose. Our intellect and our powers of reason and understanding were given to us for that purpose. Our emotions are meant to be informed by and to serve the truth as forces that move us to the good or away from evil. And until that right order is re-established in each of us, we will continue to see an increase in chaos and the culture of death around us.

Emotions are powerful forces that are a deep part of what makes us human. They can move us in ways that are strong and decisive, as when we need to take action in the face of injustice or danger, but also in ways that are delicate and sensitive as when we need to attend to a small child in distress. In the right order, emotions help us to go beyond ourselves in deeds, behavior, and relationships for the sake of a greater good. However, in their disorder, they can overpower reason and practical wisdom. They can blind us to the truth and take on a life of their own which manifests in excess and the domination of self-interest or self-absorption over all else.

Questions For Reflection (after 5-10 minutes of silence):

  1. Am I aware of what kinds of things trigger me emotionally?
  2. Which emotions are most easily triggered in me? Anger? Sympathy? Love? Compassion? Sadness? Joy? Fear? Disgust? Trust? Anxiety? Etc.
  3. Do I sometimes make decisions with my emotions? Do I have a habit of acting impulsively from emotion?
  4. In my life experience, what have been some of the effects of making decisions with my emotions? What would I do differently now?

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Updates

Keys For Change: Spiritual Exercise 02/17/20

Facing Our Immortality Support Group

Time: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm mountain (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm eastern).

  1. Call Uber Conference at 720-735-7025 or
  2. Online at uberconference.com/facingourimmortality

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Keys For Change

A story is told of a man frantically searching for his lost keys under a streetlamp. When a police officer stops to help the man, he asks him where he last had his keys. “Over there by the bushes,” responds the man. “Then why are you looking here?” asks the policeman. “Because the light is better here.”

At the beginning of the year, as we contemplate changes to be made, it can be helpful to question our focus.  Sometimes change comes not from focusing on something in the environment, but rather on the environment itself and whether it supports the goals and expectations we have.

One of the key concepts in education is the concept of the prepared environment.  In observing children, Maria Montessori noted that when one understood the developmental needs of the child, they could arrange the environment in such a way that it would not only be conducive to real growth and development, but would accelerate thriving and happy explosions of learning, or sensitive periods as she called them, for optimal growth.  

To emphasize the importance of this idea, she used the example of a waterwheel often placed alongside a river to generate energy.  She noted that if you were to relocate the waterwheel to the desert, it would fail to function because it would be in the wrong environment.  So she arranged the classroom accordingly and demonstrated the remarkable fruitfulness of paying attention to the environment if you want to truly serve children in healthy development.

The idea of prepared environments is a universal concept that has been around since the beginning of time. In fact, the understanding of the importance of environment runs through Scripture as an undergirding theme, from the Garden of Eden to the Promised Land to the instructions for worship and community life, to Jesus’ teachings about the Church and eternal life.

It also runs through the saints’ teachings on holiness, where we discover, once we have committed to the work of sanctification, that we often have to change our environments and relationships to avoid the near occasions of sin, which we encounter so quickly in life today. If we fail to address environment, it becomes almost impossible to conquer the disorder and temptations that are long-standing and prevalent in us.  (An active alcoholic cannot expect to recover if he takes a job in a bar, or continues to socialize with people who are always drinking. The environment overpowers him in his weakness and does not serve but sabotages his efforts.)

Another area where this concern is also present is in the Church’s directions to religious communities and parish communities.  Religious communities are structured the way they are for the sake of creating environments that help members live the perfection of charity and give prophetic witness of the life to come.  Parish communities are meant to support people’s search for God and a deepening relationship with Him while providing at the same time, a place for authentic, communal worship of God as His People.

Family life was also ordained by God from the beginning of time, as the best environment for children to be raised in and for human beings to live in. Jesus points to this importance of environment both in his life, (Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth, the Holy Family) and when He tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God.  As He returns to the Father He tells his disciples not to be sad, because He goes to prepare an eternal place for us in His Father’s Mansion.  -Jn 14:3 What anticipation we should feel at that thought!

Why is this particularly important for us today?  Because we see the increasing effects of chaos and barbarism, which are the fruit of environments that are disordered and detrimental to the dignity and development of the human person and human communities.  Environment isn’t the whole answer, but it is remarkable how a good environment can draw the best out of people while the opposite often happens in unhealthy environments.

Vatican Council II talked about the role of the laity in sanctifying the temporal order.  Another way to understand that is to say the laity are responsible for creating environments which are conducive to the living out of our relationship with God here and now, and as preparation for eternal life hereafter.

Laity should be sanctifying all areas of human activity: law, politics, medicine, technology, education, science, etc., by supporting and establishing Christian environments that respect the human person and are structured to the recognition of God’s order and the full development of the human person, vs. the profit or power at all costs mentality.  

The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to examine our environments and ask some tough questions.  How much is happiness or a lack of joy and satisfaction tied to disorder in my environment?  In the life of my family, friends, etc.?  What is my work environment like? What about my social environment?  Where can I bring some humanizing and Christianizing influence into the environments I live in, work in and recreate in? What kind of self-discipline is necessary to keep that order once it is established?

It is, of course, necessary to look at the environment of our own hearts.  The interior of our own hearts tend to dictate the order or disorder around us.  At the same time, some environments are more healing to the heart than others. And our goal should be to create these kinds of environments.

This life, as we have often said, is a preparation for the life we will live in eternity. If there are things in our life here that are not compatible with our dignity as children of God and future citizens of Heaven, then now is the time to clear them out and begin anew to recognize the great gifts and the high call God has given to us already here in time to participate in building the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven.

1. Do I have set goals for this time in my life?

2. What is my current environment like?  Given the things I am dealing with right now, does my environment support the goals I have at this time in my life?

3. What kinds of things in my own heart might need attention?

4. Given that emotions/moods can be contagious, how do I affect the environment of people I live with, socialize with, work and worship with?

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