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Newsletter

 

IRISH DOMINICAN PARISH NEWSLETTER MAY/JUNE 2019

 

An Atheist Investigates Jesus to Disprove the Resurrection

 

I didn't become an atheist overnight. When I was growing up, my teachers and the leaders at church wouldn't answer my questions about God, like why He didn't wipe out evil or stop people's suffering. My parents went to church on Sundays but rarely talked about God at home.

My relationship with my father was terrible. During one argument, he looked at me and said, "I don't have enough love for you to fill my little finger." It can be difficult to accept the idea of a loving heavenly Father when you've been rejected by the earthly version.

And was God even there? In high school and college, I was taught that God isn't necessary for the origin of life and that we can't trust the biblical accounts of Jesus' ministry. After college, I started my career and got married. Atheism fit the self-centred life I was living.

But then my wife became a Christian, and for the first time, I began to seriously investigate the claims of Christianity, if for no other reason than to liberate her from her faith. And I knew that my debunking of Christianity had to start with its bold, central claim: that Jesus Christ died and came back to life.

The Christian faith rises or falls on that claim. It's the whole ballgame. I had investigated lots of deaths in my career as a journalist, and none of those corpses ever regained life. Dead people just don't come back to life — unless that person truly is the Son of God.

To investigate the Resurrection, I approached the topic with four questions in mind. And no one was more surprised by what I found than I was!

As Easter approaches, I hope the answers to these questions help your family have confidence in the Bible's account of Jesus Christ's resurrection.

Was Jesus really dead?

Sceptics insist that Jesus never died on the Cross as the Bible claims. One of the first things I discovered, to my surprise, is that historians consider Jesus Christ's death on a cross to be a noncontroversial fact. As the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded: "The historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted."

We have multiple independent reports of His death in the documents that make up the New Testament, and we have at least five ancient sources

outside the Bible that corroborate that He died on a cross. Even the Jewish Talmud admits that Jesus was executed. One New Testament scholar, atheist Gerd Lüdemann of Vanderbilt University, calls Jesus' death on the Cross an "indisputable" fact.

Did believers invent this story?

I used to think the Resurrection was a legend — maybe 100 years after Jesus' life, people started believing a myth. As I investigated the historical roots of ancient legends, I learned that it took a long time in the ancient world — more than two generations — for legends to develop and wipe out a solid core of historical facts. Yet we have a report of the Resurrection, preserved later by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 that was written much too quickly after Jesus' death to be considered a legend. Prominent New Testament scholar James D.G. Dunn is convinced this report was formulated within months after Jesus' death. Add to that the four Gospels, which contain reports that date within just a generation of Jesus' life.

There is no huge time gap between the death of Jesus and the later development of a legend that He rose from the dead. We've got a news flash that goes right back to the beginning.

Was the tomb actually empty?

Perhaps the tomb was never empty, some sceptics say. But even the opponents of Jesus implicitly conceded the tomb was empty that first Easter morning. In fact, so sure they were of the empty tomb that they claimed that Christ's disciples stole His body.

And Jesus' body was almost certainly put into that tomb, despite arguments that victims of crucifixion were never buried. The Digesta, a summary of ancient Roman law compiled by the Emperor Justinian, says: "The bodies of persons who have been punished should be given to whoever requests them for the purposes of burial." In fact, in 1968, archaeologists found the buried remains of a crucifixion victim with the spike still through his anklebone.

But how was the tomb emptied? Romans didn't have a motive for stealing the body. They wanted Jesus dead. Jewish leaders of the day didn't have a motive. They wanted Jesus to stay dead. Disciples didn't have the means or the opportunity to steal the body. The most plausible explanation is that Jesus rose from the dead.

Did people actually see Jesus alive?

We have nine ancient sources inside and outside the New Testament that

corroborate the conviction of the disciples that they encountered the resurrected Jesus. This is an avalanche of historical evidence! What's more, the earliest report of the Resurrection says 500 people saw Him at the same time.

"OK," sceptics say, "so people saw something. Could they have been hallucinating?" But that sort of shared hallucination doesn't happen, according to the psychology experts I talked with. Hallucinations happen in individual minds.

What's more, Saul of Tarsus, who for years lived as a persecutor of Christians, encountered the resurrected Christ (Acts 9:1-6). Saul was not psychologically primed to have a vision of the risen Jesus — and he had no motive to claim such an encounter if it had never occurred.

What I had to conclude

Disproving the Resurrection wasn't easy! In fact, it was impossible. My research caused me to realize: The case for the resurrection of Jesus is powerful and persuasive. That evidence led me to my own faith in Christ, and in the years since that investigation, I've been helping other Christians understand how we can have confidence in the biblical accounts of the Resurrection.

At Easter, we're not just celebrating a holiday of chocolate eggs, ham dinners and time with our families. No, we are recognizing that Christ's resurrection authenticates His claim that He is the Son of God.

You see, anyone can make claims, and Jesus certainly made transcendent, messianic and divine claims about himself. He claimed He was the Son of God. But if He actually came back from death, that affirms His divine identity. As the apostle Paul said, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). If the resurrection of Jesus is true, then His teachings are not just wise words from an old, dead sage. They are the very words of God. We're compelled to follow these teachings and help our children understand that Jesus deserves our worship and our allegiance.

His resurrection means that He is still alive, and we can encounter Him today. And because of His atoning death on the Cross, all those who follow Him have received forgiveness for their sins, and heaven is open for all of us. The Resurrection truly changes everything.

By Lee Strobel

 

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Solemnity of the Translation of the Relic of St Dominic

On May 24, the Dominican Order celebrates the translation of the relics of St. Dominic.  That is, we remember the day in 1233 when, during a General Chapter of the Order in Bologna, the interred body of St. Dominic was moved in order to allow the faithful to honour him more easily.  More than 300 friars were present to celebrate this important day.  In one of his letters, Bl. Jordan of Saxony describes the event:

“But then the wonderful day came for the translation of the relics of one who was an illustrious doctor in his lifetime. Present were the venerable Archbishop of Ravenna, surrounded by bishops and a large number of prelates, as well as by a vast multitude of people of different languages who gave remarkable witness to their devotion. Present also was the Bolognese militia, which would not let this holy body, that they considered to be in their safekeeping, be snatched from them. As for the brethren, they were anxious: although they had nothing to fear, they were seized with misgivings lest the body of Saint Dominic, which had lain in a mean tomb exposed to water and heat for such a long period of time, should be found eaten with worms and giving off a foul odour in the same way that might be expected with other corpses, thus destroying the devotion of the people for so great a man. Nonetheless the bishops approached devoutly. The stone that was firmly cemented to the sepulchre was removed with instruments of iron. Within the tomb was a wooden coffin, just as it had been placed there by the venerable Pope Gregory when he was bishop of Ostia. The body had been buried there, and a small hole remained in the top of the coffin.

The upper part of the coffin was moved a little bit. As soon as the stone was taken away, the body gave forth a wonderful odour through the opening; its sweetness astonished those present, and they were filled with wonder at this strange occurrence. Everyone shed tears of joy, and fear and hope rose in all hearts. We ourselves also smelled the sweetness of this perfume, and we bear witness to what we have seen and smelt. Eager with love, we remained devotedly near the body of Dominic for a long time, and we were unable to sate ourselves with this great sweetness. If one touched

the body with a hand or a belt or some other object, the odour immediately attached itself to it for a long period of time.

The body was carried to the marble sepulchre where it would rest—it and the perfume that it poured forth. This marvellous aroma which the holy body emitted was evidence to all how much the saint had truly been the good odour of Christ”.

In the Basilica of Santa Sabina, which was originally given to St. Dominic and the Order in the 13th century, this day is celebrated as a Solemnity, in honour of St. Dominic’s service there.  Each year, Dominican friars, sisters, laity and friends from all over Rome gather to participate in the Mass.  As has been the custom, a priest of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) celebrates the Mass and preaches to the assembled Dominicans. 

 

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How to Receive Holy Communion

May is the month in which children traditionally receive their first communion. This year first communion will take place in N.S. Navegantes on 11th May.

As part of their first communion preparation the children learn how to receive communion and it is no harm for those whose first communion is a distant memory to refresh themselves on how to receive communion.

You may receive the Sacred Host either in your hand or on your tongue. The choice is yours.

If you intend to receive the Sacred Host in your hand, extend both hands palm upwards toward the minister, placing one hand directly on top of the other. You should do this as you approach the minister so that it is obvious to the minister that you wish to receive Communion in the hand.

The minister will hold the Sacred Host in front of you and say,   “The Body of Christ.” You respond by saying, “Amen.”   The minister will then place the Host on your open palm. Do not take the Sacred Host out of the hand of the minister with your fingers. An important liturgical principle is the communicant receives rather than takes Holy Communion.

Do not fail to respond “Amen” when the minister says “The Body of

Christ.” Do not substitute another expression for it such as “Thank you.” The minister in saying “The Body of Christ” is making a declaration of faith about the nature of the Eucharist and the Church which you as the communicant must affirm with you “Amen” before you receive.

After receiving the Sacred Host in your hand, step aside and consume the Host immediately while facing the altar. Do not begin walking back to your seat before consuming the Host

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Pentecost Sunday 9th June

 

Pentecost, which we celebrate this Sunday, is the liturgical season after Easter. It celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. Pentecost begins the eighth Sunday, or 50 days, after Easter Sunday. The descent of the Holy Spirit ushered in a new era for the people of God.

The Jewish History of Pentecost

“Pentecost” is from Greek meaning “fiftieth.” The name Pentecost was originally given to the Jewish Feast of Weeks which fell on the fiftieth day after Passover. On this day, the first fruits of the grain harvest were offered to the Lord (Leviticus 23:15-21 and Deuteronomy 16:9-11). The second chapter of Acts begins by noting that the Feast of Weeks had just passed.

The Day of Pentecost in Acts

In Acts 2:1-41 the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. This occurred ten days after Jesus’ Ascension. Jesus had asked his Apostles to pray, and their nine days of prayer can be considered as the first novena.

Let’s look at the biblical account of Pentecost in detail.

Miracles the Apostles Experienced

When the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, they preached the Good News of Jesus Christ. Miraculously, people of many different languages and nations could understand the Apostles in their own languages. This

miracle reflected God’s desire for the Gospel to be preached to all and for all the peoples of the earth to be united in faith. The Collect (opening prayer) of the Pentecost Mass prays:

“Almighty ever-living God, who willed the Paschal Mystery to be encompassed as a sign in fifty days, grant that from out of the scattered nations the confusion of many tongues may be gathered by heavenly grace into one great confession of your name.”

Another wonder surrounding Pentecost was that tongues of fire appeared and rested on the Apostles. God left no doubt that Pentecost was an important event in the history of the Church and that the Holy Spirit was truly present.

The Most Important Effect of Pentecost

The miraculous tongues of fire, along with the Apostles’ ability to speak in different languages, may seem to be the most impressive signs of Pentecost. However, the most important and most lasting effect of Pentecost went deeper than that.

Peter, the leader of the Apostles, stood in front of the crowds and preached. He preached with boldness and conviction. Consider that up until this point the Apostles had not preached at all. Just 10 days before, the Apostles still thought that Jesus’ mission was to restore an earthly kingdom to Israel (cf. Acts 1:6). Now, however, Peter recognizes the mission of Jesus and boldly preaches instead of remaining hidden in a room.

The boldness that the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles on Pentecost gave them the courage and wisdom to preach to many nations and peoples. This, in turn, resulted in the spread of Christianity and the conversion of thousands of people. On the day of Pentecost, about 3,000 people were baptized (Acts 2:41).

Pentecost: The Birthday of the Church

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church because from that point on the apostles carried the message of Christ to the whole world. The authority that Christ gave his Apostles through the Holy Spirit extends through the bishops today. The Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church. In fact, St. Augustine said that the Holy Spirit was the soul of the Church. Just as the soul gives life to the body, so also the Spirit gives life to the Church.

The Spirit Continues to Make Christ Present

Pentecost ushered in a new age of the Church through which Christ works in different means for our salvation. In this age of the Church Christ now lives and acts in and with his Church, in a new way appropriate to the new age. He acts through the sacraments […]; this is the communication of the fruits of Christ’s Paschal mystery in the celebration of the Church’s ‘sacramental’liturgy. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1076.

In other words, although since his Ascension Jesus is no longer physically present on earth, Jesus has not left us alone. Indeed, he is still present to us in other ways. Jesus has left us the sacraments through which the Holy Spirit conveys the grace of God in a physical and tangible way. Pentecost marks the beginning of this new, sacramental era in which we live today. It does so because the ministers of the sacraments (usually priests and deacons) have them. The Holy Spirit conforms the minister to Christ.

Pentecost Liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church

Today, we usually baptize catechumens at the Easter Vigil (the Mass the night before Easter). In the early Church, Pentecost was another popular day for baptism. This makes sense, because baptism is a sacrament in which the Holy Spirit fills the baptized person with supernatural life.

The liturgical colour for Pentecost is red. Red can signify martyrdom, but in this instance it represents the Holy Spirit. It does so because of the tongues of fire associated with Pentecost.

One unique thing that happens at Pentecost Mass is the Pentecost Sequence (Veni Sancte Spiritus–“Come Holy Spirit”). This is a prayer to the Holy Spirit that is either sung or said before the Alleluia and the Gospel. The Sequence invites the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts. It includes many descriptions of the Holy Spirit. These descriptions include “You, of comforters the best,” “In our labour rest most sweet,” as well as many others. The sequence is a beautiful part of Pentecost Mass.

Celebrating Pentecost

Although often overlooked, Pentecost is one of the most important Catholic feasts of the year. As the birthday of the Church, it is truly a day to celebrate!

 

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The Link Between Liturgy and Life

The Church has a vital role to play in shaping responsible citizens with moral character and with a willingness to contribute to the well-being of society. The liturgy and the worship of the Church have much to do with these admirable goals. At divine worship, people receive the grace to help them to be formed ever more closely to Christ. The saving grace of the dying and rising Christ are communicated to us in the Sacraments so that we might live more perfectly Christ’s truth and the virtues such as love, justice, mercy and compassion.

Every Mass ends with the mission to go forth and serve the Lord. This sending means that the love of God and neighbour and the moral implications of the Beatitudes and the Ten commandments should be witnessed by the participation in everyday life. People of faith know that their liturgical experience provides a unique spiritual vision and strength for making this a better world.

 

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Peaceful Summer Day

Sitting on the front porch enjoying a peaceful summer day,

Writing down the words that He’s given me to say.

Sipping on my coffee and watching the wind blow the trees,

Quietly watching the birds sailing in the breeze.

When I look at this beauty it takes my cares away,

The majestic mountains that top these skies today.

Off in a distance a bird begins to sing,

And the sounds of the country and the music it can bring.

The dogs are lying in the sun and lost in the deep,

To watch them in this summer breeze make me want to fall asleep.

To realize that I have been so blessed,

All of my troubles become no more than a pest.


Listening to the sound of children playing in the sun,

Reminds me of a boy and all the things I had done.

Laughing and playing and cherishing each day,

Sometimes I wish that those times were here to stay.

In a world full of struggle, turmoil, and strife,

I feel so blessed to get to live this life.

There are no brilliant words that I could ever say,

That ever could describe a peaceful summer day.

Gary R. Ferris

 

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Church Bulletin Bloopers

 

Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

The Fasting and Prayer Conference includes meals.

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

 

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Spiritual Nourishment

 

Mon/Tues – 24 hour Adoration on the Blessed Sacrament, St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre.

Every Tuesday – Prayer Group St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre 10.30am.

Every Wednesday – 12 hours Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament 10.00am – 10.00pm St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre.

Rosary – The Rosary is recited before the 10.15am Mass on Sundays at St. Mary’s Pastoral centre. Rosary begins at 9.50am

N.S. Nagegantes – Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every Friday 9.30am -10.30am

 

Corpus Christi Thursday 20th June

‘From this feast of Corpus Christi have originated many practices of Eucharistic devotion that, under the inspiration of divine grace, have increased from day to day, and that the Catholic Church uses eagerly to show ever greater homage to Christ, to thank him for so great a gift and to implore his mercy.”

Pope Paul VI

 

Mass Times

St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre – 10.15am

N.S. Navegantes – 12.00 noon

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“Under normal circumstances food is changed into the person who comsumes it: fish, bread and the like become human flesh and blood. But in holy communion the exact opposite happens. The Bread of Life himself changes the person who eats, assimilating and transforming him into himself.”

Nicolas Cabasilas (died 1371)

Greek mystical writer