Easter Sequence

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”
Psalm 118:24

On four special days out of the year, the church uses what is called a “sequence.” These ancient liturgical hymns are used on the feasts of Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and Our Lady of Sorrows. They explore the meaning of the feast we are celebrating through profound poetic imagery. The texts are not easy to understand and take some time to digest. But they possess a great depth of imagery and spirit.

Here is a section of the Easter sequence for you to ponder this week and throughout the season of Easter:

Christians, to the Paschal Victim

Offer your thankful praises!

A Lamb the sheep redeems;

Christ, who only is sinless,

Reconciles sinners to the Father.

Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:

The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.

Speak, Mary, declaring

What you saw, wayfaring.

“The tomb of Christ, who is living,

The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;

Bright angels attesting,

The shroud and napkin resting.

Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;

to Galilee he goes before you.”

Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.

Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!

Amen. Alleluia.

Easter Sequence

May the Lord give you the blessings of new life through the power of Jesus paschal mystery!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-4-2021

Lincoln’s Log 3-28-2021

Betrayal

“The essence of the mystery of the Christian faith is mercy, which is made visible in Jesus of Nazareth… and [is] the deepest storyline of the Church’s story.”
Directory for Catechesis #51

“… the bystanders said to Peter, ‘Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.’ He began to curse and to swear, ‘I do not know this man about whom you are talking.’ And immediately a cock crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.’ He broke down and wept.”
Mk. 14:70-72

One moment of the Passion of Jesus strikes us to the heart: Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. We all know what it feels like to be betrayed. Some of us have been betrayed by a spouse or a close friend. We know that the wound of betrayal can hurt more than physical pain. It wounds our ability to trust. It undermines our capacity to relate to others with freedom and vulnerability. We know the pain that Peter’s betrayal inflicted on Jesus. Our hearts break.

But this scene of betrayal takes us deeper. We don’t just appreciate the pain Jesus experienced from the betrayal. More deeply, we identify with Peter. On occasion, we may be innocent victims of betrayal, but deep in our hearts, we know that we have betrayed God and others. That’s why Peter’s betrayal touches us so deeply. We know we are just like him: untrustworthy, fearful, and weak.

The story of Jesus’ passion reveals our brokenness. It shows how badly we are in need of redemption and how undeserving we are. The more we uncover our brokenness, the more the Lord heals us. It is a painful experience to engage Jesus’ passion, but it is the type of pain that leads to freedom.

This week, take some time to read the passion (Mk. 14:1-15:45) and talk with the Lord about your brokenness. Then, listen. Like Peter, you may be moved to tears. But you will not be left alone to wallow in misery. The Lord will come to you with healing love. Mercy is the heart of the Gospel. Entrust yourself to Jesus’ merciful heart which will never betray you.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 3-21-2021

Defeating Death

“By the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it.”
Wis. 2:24

“… Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, ‘Untie him and let him go.’”
Jn. 11:43-44

As lent drives to its culmination, we hear about Jesus’ conquest of the final enemy: death. This is the final Sunday Gospel we will hear before Holy Week. The last two weeks have been building up to this weekend’s Gospel by showing Jesus’ power over sin.

  • Two weeks ago, in the story of the Woman at the Well (Jn. 4), we heard Jesus defeat sin’s power of shame and addiction.
  • Last week, we heard about the Man Born Blind (Jn. 9), which revealed Jesus’ destruction of sin’s power in the dysfunctional systems around us.
  • This week, the final enemy is destroyed.

Death enters the picture with the sin of Adam and Eve. This sin alienated Adam and Eve and us, their descendants from the life of God. “For you are dust, and to dust, you shall return” (Gn. 3:19). That is our condition. We are all going to die, and there is nothing we can do about it. We can delay death by taking care of ourselves, but all of us are mortal and we will die. Through sin, our own sin and that of Adam and Eve, we all are subject to the power of death.

Yet, today’s Gospel reading reveals that, as powerful and pervasive as death is, it is not almighty. In the Gospel we see Jesus confronting the power of death over His friend Lazarus. Jesus is victorious and Lazarus is resuscitated. This victory over the death of one person points us forward to Jesus’ ultimate victory over death through the events we celebrate in Holy Week. It is by His crucifixion and resurrection that Jesus ultimately defeats sin’s greatest power and frees us from the power of death.

This is good news!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 3-14-2021

Sin’s Structural Power

“Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to [Jesus], ‘Surely we are not also blind, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind you would have no sin; but now you are saying “We see,” so your sin remains.”
Jn. 9:40-4

“‘Structures of sin’ are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a ‘social sin.’”
CCC #1869

Last weekend, in the story of the Woman at the Well in Jn. 4, we saw the power of sin revealing itself through the shame that can isolate us from God and from our community. Today, we see the power of sin expressing itself through systems and structures of sin.

The Man Born Blind, in Jn. 9, is healed by Jesus. He begins to believe in Jesus. He even starts to change his life to become Jesus’ disciple. This is a good thing. His parents and community should be excited by his healing and the positive changes he is making. But this is not what happens.

Instead of rejoicing and celebrating the man’s healing, his parents and the community resist this change. They interrogate him about why he has changed. They are suspicious of the man even though he has clearly been healed. The community tries to put him back in his place, a broken beggar who is known as a sinner. “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” they ask. Then they throw him out (Jn. 9:34).

This is one of the dynamics of sin that anyone who is trying to make a significant positive change has experienced. An alcoholic who quits drinking finds himself being pressured by friends to come out drinking with them. A person who has gotten out of a dysfunctional relationship finds that their friends or family don’t understand. Someone who starts to pray more gets harassed for being “holier than thou.” The man who starts volunteering at the shelter gets teased by his co-workers. The woman who hangs a cross in her office is pressured to take it down. An individual who refuses to gossip or tolerate racist jokes can find himself isolated.

Sin not only challenges us from within through the voice of shame but it pressures us from the structures and communities around us. The world is broken. As we grow in faith, we find that it is a struggle not only with our own hearts but sometimes with our families, coworkers, and friends. The world has a way of trying to bend us to sin.

The good news is that Jesus never abandons us. “When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him… “ (Jn. 9:35). Change is hard, but God’s grace makes it possible.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 3-7-2021

Scrutinies and Sin

“The scrutinies… are rites for self-searching and repentance and … are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good. For the scrutinies are celebrated in order to deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ….”
RCIA #141 [Emphasis added]

This weekend, and for the next two weeks, we will be praying the scrutiny rituals over our elect. These ancient rites remind us of the power of Sin in the world. Sin, with a capital “S” is the power of evil in the world that separates us from the love of God. It binds our freedom and leads us on the path of death. Like an addiction, sin roots itself deep in our hearts and makes us it’s slave (Rm. 7:14f). Sin also has a role in shaping the culture around us and distorts the way we see reality. Ultimately, Sin cuts us off from God, the source of life itself.

The Gospels for the next three weeks expose various ways Sin lurks in our midst, so that we can allow God to heal us and be delivered from all forms of Sin.

  • This weekend, as we encounter the Woman at the Well (Jn. 4), we see Jesus’ power over personal sin. This woman has made bad choices and given herself to false gods, but Jesus has the power to free her. She is released from the shame that has held her in bondage and is free to worship God “in Spirit and in Truth” (Jn. 4:23). We too, can be set free by Jesus.
  • Next weekend we will hear the story of the Man Born Blind (Jn. 9). We hear that we are blinded by Sin. We think we see, but we are blinded by our expectations and prejudices. There is social sin (CCC 1869), which distorts our vision and prevents us from seeing God’s Kingdom breaking in around us. Yet, as he healed the Man born blind, Jesus has the power to heal our blindness and reveal God’s Kingdom in all its glory.
  • Paul tells us “the final enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26). In our final scrutiny Gospel, we witness Jesus’ power over this enemy. Jesus’ friend Lazarus has been claimed by death and rots in a tomb, but Jesus brings life which has power over death (Jn. 11).

For these next three weeks, the Gospels expose Sin and we pray, invoking Jesus’ power to free, heal, and conquer death itself. As we approach the great Mystery of Easter, let us turn to Jesus, our source of life.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader