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Saturday, August 8, 2015

TWENTY EIGHT HOLY STAIRS





Going over my pictures of our recent trip to Italy this morning, I came upon some pictures we took of  “The Holy Stairs.” I still today think of that moment in which my hubby and climbed those stairs on our knees. You might think we are nuts and why would we do that? We also asked ourselves that question when we decided to climb 28 stairs on our knees.

What are the “Holy Stairs?”
The Holy Stairs are situated right across the street from the Basilica of St John Latern in Rome, Italy.  St John Latern Basilica is the first church ever built in the history of Christianity. It was originally a palace owned by the Latern family. Emperor Nero martyred the family, for becoming Christians, about the same time St Paul and Peter were killed by the same brute. Nero confiscated all their properties including their palace. In AD 313, the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal and for the first time, since the day Christ ascended to the Father, Christians were allowed to finally openly worship in public. Churches were quickly built not just in Rome but also throughout the empire. In AD 391, the worship of other gods was made illegal.

Tradition and history teaches that Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, had become a Christian. Though it would take Constantine many years (age 42) to finally surrender his life to Christ, he opened the door for the Church to finally come out of hiding, be legal and the killing of the innocent was finally over. Think about it, 313 years (the USA is not that old) after Christ ascended to the Father, it was forbidden to be a Christian, and if you became one, the chances are you most likely would have been killed for your faith. It’s a miracle it did not die from its start. It was a miracle from above for 313 years grace was flowing and the Church persevered.

Constantine’s mother St Helena made it a mission to mark places in the Holy Land and build churches over the Holy sites of Christ. She also brought back many relics to Rome, including the Holy Steps.

According to ancient Christian tradition and history, St Helena (335AD), the mother of Constantine, had the stairs transported from Pontius Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem to Rome. The Holy Stairs are the stairs Jesus climbed several times the day He was sentenced to death, so they are known as the Scala Pilati or Scala Santa (Pilate’s Stairs or the Holy Stairs.)


While on my knees as I climbed the Holy Stairs many things flashed through my mind. I offered prayers at each step for those who had asked for prayer during our pilgrimage and I contemplated on the suffering my Lord Jesus endured that day, 2,000 years ago as Pontius Pilate asked the crowd what should I do with this man who I find has done no wrong. The crowd cried: “CRUSIFY HIM! CRUSIFY HIM!”



It was a very warm day as I climbed the Holy Stairs on my knees and my strength was taken from me from the very beginning. My knees are not young any more and the old hard wood worn with grooves from centuries gone by as other pilgrims, made the course I had undertaken seem impossible.  The steps are made of marble, and old wooden planks are laid over the marble stairs for protection. I am usually not one to sweat, but early into my climb, sweat was dripping from my brow and my shirt was as if I had stepped into a pool of water.



“ Lord, I’m going to do this, I am going to experience this pain, so small, so little and can not even compare to what you experienced 2,000 years ago on these stairs. Lord, help me, one step at a time.”

My life flashed before me and all the stairs in my life; the joy, the sorrows, the good and the bad.. How He had taught me the importance of taking each day at a time, not always listening to His advice, but trying to learn from the Master, how to cherish every day, how to not run ahead of His will; I’m a stubborn one…"forgive me Father."

“Lord, help me to take each step, each moment and not worry about the next stair I need to climb. Let me just rest here first on this stair, and when I’m rested, help me to make the next one. I offer up to You, this pain, so simple, for You to use in the lives of those who asked me to pray. I know it cannot compare to what so many in this world suffer everyday. But, it’s all I can give at this moment, use it however You see fit. I know it cannot compare to what You did for me and the world as You climbed these stairs 2,000 years ago. I unite this pain with Yours, use it.”



It’s hard to explain, but as I climbed each step on my knees, I was transported back 2,000 years and my simple pain could feel His pain, so intense, so real, how my Savior gave His all for me and He never said a word. He could have defended Himself, but He never said a word. After He climbed these stairs, He was scourged at the pillar of Pontius Pilate’s palace, He was mocked, beaten, crowned with thorns and called king of the Jews, and then ordered to climb down these stairs and carry a cross to a hill outside the city. Outside the city; nails were driven into His hands and feet into a wooden cross and the bottom of His cross was dropped into a earthen hole, and there He hung on the cross.  There He hung and said “Father Forgive them for they do not know what they do.”


After we got off the stairs, catching our breaths, I found a prayer book in the gift shop of the “Scala Santa” in which many pilgrims use as they climb the Holy Stairs. Wish I had seen it before we started our climb, but am also grateful for my spontaneous, sincere Jesus experience and me. Since I’ve returned home, I realized what a wonderful devotion to meditate on the 28 steps in which our Lord climb up to be condemn to death and then climb down after being beaten, to carry the CROSS…

Let Us Pray
Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God save the world at the 6th hour You were raised onto the scaffold of the cross, and shed Your precious blood to obtain pardon for our sins, we humbly beg You to grant us, after our deaths, the possibility of crossing the threshold of paradise. You who live and reign for ever and ever..AMEN

Christ, though He was in the form of God, humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2, 6-8).

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 1: While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His Disciples, saying, “Take it: this is my Body.” Then He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to tehm, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them ( Mark 14, 22-24)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 2: So He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that He poured water into a basin and began to wash His Disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him ( John 13, 4-5)



We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 3: Then Jesus went with His Disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along side Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26, 36-38.)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 4: He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will (Matthew 26, 51-52)



We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 5: Judas advanced towards Jesus to give Him a kiss. Jesus said to him “Judas, is it with a kiss that you betray the Son of man?” (Luke 22, 47-48)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 6: With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword away” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26, 51-52)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 7: Then those who had arrested Jesus took Him to Caiaphas, the high priest, Peter followed Him, but at a distance. (Matthew 26, 57-58)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 8: And as soon as he had spoken, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand. “Is this how you answer the high priest?” he demanded. If I have said something wrong,: Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke truth, why did you strike me? (John 18, 22-23)



We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 9: After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will have disowned me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Mark 14, 69-72)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 10: Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate. “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “Yes, it is as you say, “Jesus replied (Mark 15,1-2)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.
Stair 11: “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say I am king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the TRUTH. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18,37)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 12: Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. (John 19,1)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 13: The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and placed it on His head. They clothed Him in a purple robe and went up to Him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped Him in the face. (John 19, 2-3)



We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 14: Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing Him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against Him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” (John 19, 4-5)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 15: As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw Him, they shouted, “Crucify Him!, Crucify Him!” (John 19,6)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 16: And He bearing His cross went forth to a place of a skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. (John 19, 17)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 17: As the soldiers led Him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus (Luke 23, 26)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 18: Large numbers of people followed Him, including women who mourned and wailed for Him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.” (Luke 23, 27-28)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 19: And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots to determine what every man should take. (Mark 15, 24)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 20: When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to her, “Women, here is Your Son,” and to the disciple, “Here is Your Mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19, 26-27)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 21: Jesus said; “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23, 24)

Stair 22: And when the sixth hour came, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me? (Mark 15, 33-34)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 23: One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us? (Luke 23, 39)
 
We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 24: But the other criminal rebuked him. Don’t you fear God.” He said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.” Jesus, answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23, 40-43)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 25: Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19, 28-30)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 26: Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance, (Mark 15,46)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 27: But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dresses in white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be afraid, he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” (Mark 16, 4-6)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Stair 28: After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by signs that accomplished it. (Mark 16, 19-20)

We adore You, Christ, and we praise You, because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

Remember:
From the letters of Saint Paul of the Cross

Jesus’ pain is the miracle of miracles of God’s love. The most effective means for converting souls is Jesus Christ’s Passion.
Through daily mediation upon Jesus Christ’s Passion you will learn charity, patience and meekness.
It is the door that leads the souls to an intimate union with God, to interior reflections and to the most sublime contemplation.
Carry the pain of Jesus Christ in your heart, and every pain will be sweet for you.
When you are at the peak of your afflictions, take up a crucifix and let it preach to you. Oh, what a sermon you will hear! How soon your heart will be returned to peace!
I wish that the whole world could feel the enormous grace that God, in His pity for us, grant us when He makes us suffer!

In essence, the mercy that God gives to his servants is the cross. He gives us afflictions, trials and tribulations of every sort, so as to bring us closer to His divine son Jesus, in order to then place us in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Me and my hubby are so glad we climbed the Holy Stairs. Was an amazing time with Jesus, we will never forget.

Monday, July 27, 2015

TEARS


TEARS STILL FLOWING
I went this past weekend to the Little Rock Diocese; Arkansas Catholic Charismatic Conference with some friends and my daughter Sister Jeanine. We were taught something about TEARS....So beautiful and our hearts cried tears all weekend, as our Lord was working in areas of each one of us... areas of healing.
And as I sit quietly at home this morning, and so tired of lack of sleep from this weekends events, my mind keeps replaying in my mind and my heart what I learned about TEARS, and my tears keep flowing from my heart with a new understanding..  And I ask myself, when will they stop? And do I want them to stop?

A humble, and very sincere priest taught me something I never knew about tears this past weekend and the traditions of OLD, especially in the regions of Turkey, Greece, Egypt and Arabic countries, including the Holy Lands. This humble priest shared this revelation about TEARS, and the understanding of tears and a practice concerning tears that goes back to the ancients and a practice that still goes on in the Jewish faith and the Eastern Churches.
"Tears are a language of the heart.

Tears are deeply human and speak from the very core of the human spirit.
Tears express human emotion and feelings that are unique to humanity. Animals do not cry, nor do they weep. Human beings do. TEARS are a common language for all HUMANITY." Fr McAlear

This new revelation, but also ancient about tears was brought to life in my spirit, deep deep into the most delicate core of my heart this past weekend by Fr. Richard McAlear.
Fr McAlear has an amazing gift from above, which comes from God, through the power of the Holy Spirit. This gift of healing from above, which Fr. did not seek or ask for, was given to him 39 years ago during a prayer meeting.. He has traveled the world for 39 years, bringing "Jesus" to the sick and the broken hearted and our Lord's miracles are touching lives through-out the world by using a very humble priest, called by God to tell the world about Jesus, and the truth, that He is alive and He is still healing the sick and the broken hearted. Miracles from above have never ceased...Jesus is still working miracles ... He is alive!! These miracles are bringing the world to Jesus and they are having a personal encounter with the risen Savior. He is ALIVE.

"It is from the spirit that tears flow and to the spirit that they speak." FR Richard McAlear, OMI

....tears are deeply human
.....tears speak from the very core of the human spirit
.....tears are fundamentally a spiritual reality

Tears mark all the important moments of life.
Tears can tell the story of each ones life.
Tears can originate in emotions of fear, anxiety, sorrow, loss, desolation, despair and betrayal. They can just as well come from love, overwhelming happiness, and the experience of beauty and joy.
Tears come from the soul and flow from some deep inner place in the spirit.. They flow as a relief when emotions build up inside. It is like an emotional safety valve. They need to be shed to wash the soul of bitter poisons that can build up in the heart-soul because of hurt, sorrow and pain. They need to be shed to release deep emotions and feelings that would otherwise become to much to bear..
Jesus understood tears and He too, cried tears and was also moved by the tears of others, their tears moved Jesus to heal the sick, the broken hearted and even raise the dead..

Fr. McAlear has traveled the world and in his travels he has discovered something called a tear cup, or flask. Tear cup artifacts have been found from ancient times in archeological sites in Greek, Egyptian and Arabic cultures including the Holy Lands. The ancients stored up their tears of life in a small bottle, called a tear cup. Archeologists have dug up the reality of a practice that goes back many, many centuries, even before the times of Christ, of storing ones tears in a tear cup. And this region of the world still does this, using tear cups to store ones tears.

Fr. McAlear said; "you know how we take flowers to our loved ones grave? In this region of the world, they take their tears, in a tear cup to their loved one's grave, the tears they have shed for their loved one. You will see theses tiny little bottles of tears, all over this region of the world, on loved ones graves."

Fr McAlear told us to Google what scientist have discovered about tears.. Every tear we shed has a "chemical" make up and its chemical make-up is different from every "life event" in which we shed tears. The tears of sorrow, a birth, a wedding, stress, the loss of a loved one, a divorce, the remorse of sin and mistakes, and the list goes on, and of each life event, they are different in their chemical make up.. For example when we shed tears for the loss of a loved one, its chemical make up, it's components are nothing like the tears we shed in the rejoicing, of the birth of a grandchild..
Wow! How detailed our God is, in creating us, even our tears, much like our fingerprints, we are unique and our fingerprint from the beginning of creation, match no other person. We are that detailed in our creation from above. Our tears so detailed that flows from the most delicate part of our soul, the heart; speaks a language from its chemical make up. Just like “words”  that flow from our mouth to communicate our life events to God, our tears speak to God, as words speak to Him.. Every word uttered out of our mouth tells the story. Every tear, like every word, so different in its understanding and make-up tells our story. When one cries, "words" really do not need to be used to communicate, even to others.. We understand through their tears, their life events; may it be joy or sadness, we really do not need words, and the tears tell the story of what they are experiencing in this moment of tears. Words do not need to be spoken...when we shed tears, our inter most part of our soul speaks a language, even its chemistry as it flows out from our heart to our Creator..

Luke 7: 36-38. The Pardon of the Sinful Woman

A Pharisee invited him to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.* Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.

Fr McAlear explained Luke 7:36-38, the scene of the sinful women, a public sinner who anoints Jesus head with oil, kisses His feet, and weeps as she washes His feet with her tears..
There are many things happening here at the same time.. Kissing, anointing with oil, weeping, and the washing of feet..
They are expressions of LOVE, REPENTANCE, and of ADORATION .. In the Middle Eastern Churches, the very people who would have living experience of tear cups; see clearly something that is missing in the churches of the west.
The women does two things- she "weeps" and "washes" His feet with her tears. To most of us in the west, as the scene is envisioned, the women is weeping and using those tears to wash Jesus' feet.
For the churches of the East however, they see that two verbs and two separate but related actions happening in this scene. They would see the women weeping, and as she weeps, she is also taking her tear cups and pouring their content onto the feet of Jesus.
Her present tears mingled with tears of her past life.. They are all poured out and used to wash His feet. The tears that she weeps as she ministers are her present feelings of love, gratitude, repentance and relief. Besides the present feelings of her heart, their is also her Life Long Pain and Sorrow, her Hurts, her Tragedies, her Heartbreak and Heartaches.. There is a WHOLE LIFE of TEARS being brought to Jesus. He received her and with her, the WHOLE SORROWFUL STORY of HER LIFE.

There is great symbolism in what she does that should not be missed..

Wow! I can picture in my mind all the tears of my life, and how my tears are truly my life story...oh, how many tear cups I could have filled up...the joys, the losses, the victories, the sorrows, the things I can not change, the things I can not rewind..... If I had collected ever tear I have cried in life in one big tear cup, I know my Jesus would know every chemical components, my life story reveals.. How blessed the lady with sin and pain and life sorrows and a past got to wash Jesus' feet with her story of tears from her tear cup.

 As I continue to read this book called "TEARS" written by Fr. McAlear and ponder what he shared this weekend, I'm discovering "tears" are not a bad thing.. Tears heal, tears renew our souls and when we take our tears of our entire life or just a single moment of a life event, to the feet of Jesus... and give them to Him...not only are we forgiven, we are healed... and so much more.. I really recommend you click on the following website of Fr. McAlear and learn more about tears, forgiveness, the power of healing through prayer.. Who would of ever thought how spiritual our tears can be, if we look at them in a different light and how God created “TEARS”.. for me and you.. To take our tears to Jesus' feet and wash them with our life story or just a single life moment.. We should never stop our tears from flowing.. Amen