Seven Readings Too Many?
Our parish liturgy committee is preparing the Easter Vigil
service. Participation in recent years has been very limited,
perhaps because of the service’s length.
are there seven readings and why must they be included?
Although the Church offers nine readings for the Easter
Vigil, seven from the Old Testament and two from the New
Testament, you do not have to use all nine. A parish can
choose as few as two from the Old Testament—but always including
the crossing of the Red Sea story (Exodus 14:15—15:1).
nine readings are there because they present the sweep of
salvation history from the world’s creation through Jesus’
do you start the Easter Vigil? What once began around 11
p.m. can now begin as soon as it is dark in your area. The
starting time may influence how many people come.
letter makes no reference to the Rite of Christian Initiation
of Adults (RCIA). Each year most parishes welcome several
people to Baptism or, for those already baptized, to full
communion with the Catholic Church.
this reason enough for many people to join in this annual
renewal of their own baptismal commitment?
celebration may not be appropriate for young children or
those in poor health. Many people, however, very willingly
spend long hours on activities much less central to their
deepest values—sometimes, in fact, on activities which may
seem harmless but which undermine their stated deepest values.
faith journey is a communal one. The Easter Vigil service
Should I Forgive?
When is it appropriate to forgive someone? What does forgiving
someone really mean?
Who benefits most from forgiveness? The one being forgiven
or the person doing the forgiving?
you see it as a gift to people being forgiven, you will
probably wait until they seek forgiveness or indicate an
openness to it. If you see it primarily as a gift to yourself,
you will probably forgive more quickly.
Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), when
did the father decide to forgive the younger son?
When the son begged forgiveness? Or long before? Wasn’t
the father looking down the road for that son because the
father had already decided to forgive him?
the younger son had never “come to his senses” (v.17), would
the father have been foolish to have forgiven him? Not at
all. Once the father turned the case over to God, he would
have been free of resentment, even though he would not have
experienced the consolation of his son’s repentance.
is a unique freedom experienced by the person who decides
to forgive. That is true regardless of whether the other
party even realizes any need to seek forgiveness.
firm, long-term refusal to forgive is a decision to put
your life “on hold” until the other person asks for forgiveness.
Being put “on hold” happens with telephone conversations,
but why do it to yourself?
sometimes think that forgiveness requires lying to themselves—that
the offensive action or omission never happened, it didn’t
really do much damage, etc.
approach to forgiveness can keep a person in an abusive
situation, lead to serious financial loss or put someone’s
life in jeopardy. It’s not forgiveness to make excuses for
another person’s addiction and its negative consequences.
The way some people talk, however, makes forgiveness sound
like codependency: pretending that someone else’s self-destructive
behavior is O.K.!
person who needs to ask forgiveness can mistakenly think
that, once it is received, everything is restored. Not exactly.
I put a baseball through your window, I can ask forgiveness
and you might extend it to me. You still, however, have
a broken window! You can genuinely forgive me for breaking
that window and yet expect me to repair it or pay someone
else to do that.
cannot change past facts but it can put them into a different
perspective, a more life-giving perspective. For that reason,
forgiveness and truth are allies, not enemies. Nothing worthwhile
can be built on a lie.
much easier to forgive, of course, if the person who should
seek forgiveness actually does so. But if that person refuses
to admit the harm created by his or her actions, is it foolish
for me to forgive?
people think their refusal to forgive demonstrates their
freedom; in fact, it often shows a lack of freedom.
unforgiving people punish themselves more than the people
they refuse to forgive. The offending people may die without
realizing that they should have asked forgiveness. Unforgiving
people die with a self-imposed burden grown heavier over
is about living in the truth—yes, the truth of my pain,
my loss, perhaps someone else’s pain or loss—but also the
larger truth that the offending person was created in God’s
image whether his or her actions reflect that fact.
down, forgiveness means wanting for the offending party
what God wants for that person: to live honestly as someone
made in God’s image and likeness, reflecting that in his
or her choices.
can forgive a person and still get a restraining order to
keep that person away from me. I can forgive someone and
still insist that he or she seek professional help to deal
with an addiction. I
can forgive someone and set up a separate bank account.
you loved me, you would forgive me and not make a big deal
about this,” the person might say. “It’s because
I love you that I am making a big deal about this,” you
is appropriate to forgive someone when you can look in the
mirror and tell yourself honestly, “I want for that person
what God wants.” Until you can say that, you should pray
for the grace to say it honestly. When you can, you will
forgiveness is primarily a gift to yourself, why carry the
burden of unforgiveness any longer?
Does 'Maundy' Mean?
What happened on Maundy Thursday and what is the origin
of that strange word?
This term comes from mandatum, the Latin word for
“commandment.” In John 13:1-20, Jesus washes the feet of
his apostles at the Last Supper. Jesus later says, “I give
you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved
you, so you also should love one another” (13:34).
of the feet is part of the Catholic Mass of the Lord’s Supper
on Holy Thursday evening. Episcopalian and some other Protestant
Churches use this ceremony that day also.
all Churches, the washing of feet reminds Christians that
generous, humble service is a vital part of what it means
to follow Jesus.
How Can I Cope With My Husband's Death?
Please help me. My husband died six months ago, and I can’t
get on with my life. I wish it could have been me. I miss
him so much.
You have probably experienced the biggest loss that a person
can suffer. So many things remind you of the man with whom
you shared your life, your dreams, your hopes.
you ever dreamed of your husband since his death? The first
dream that many people have about a deceased spouse often
involves that person saying, “I’m all right,” or something
similar. The surviving spouse frequently finds this thought
extremely consoling, a stimulus to greater courage in rebuilding
a life where that partner is a memory but not a physical
faith sustained you in the years of your marriage? Can you
hear with new conviction Jesus’ statement, “I am the resurrection
and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will
live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never
die” (John 11:25-26)?
your husband could speak to you now, wouldn’t he encourage
you to remember the good times you shared? Although he might
understand it, wouldn’t he urge you to move beyond this
paralyzing grief, your feeling of “I can’t get on with my
you talk to other widows, you might find some help in dealing
with this wrenching loss. Many parishes or dioceses have
support groups for the widowed.
loves you very much and wants you to live as someone made
in God’s image and likeness—dealing with your grief but
not being crushed by it.
If you have a question for Father Pat, please submit it here.
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