Every Catholic man is called to become both a Catholic Son and a Catholic Father who leads his spouse, children and many others through the Spiritual Combat on the pilgrimage to Heaven.
To grow in holiness as a son and a father and withstand the attacks of Satan, Catholic men need to draw close to Christ Jesus each day through prayer, the Sacraments, Scripture and the liturgical life of the Church.
One of the most powerful ways to draw closer to Christ is to have a practice of meditating upon the Gospel readings selected by the Church for the daily offering of the Mass. In the daily Gospel readings from the Mass, men meet Jesus Christ, become awed by His Majesty and are drawn deeper into a life of holiness.
Lent is a time when men can return to their sacred vows to Christ by following Him on His pilgrimage towards His Passion and Resurection. The traditional 40 day pilgrimage of Lent is a manly endeavor which renews and strengthens men so they might more fully imitate Our Lord and King.
The Catholic Men’s Lenten Gospel Pilgrimage helps men enter into the Daily Gospel Reading from the Mass and offers three meditations on how a man might more fully imitate Jesus Christ.
May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you all this Lent as you grow in your mission to be a holy Catholic Son and Father who leads his family and many others towards Heaven.
Christ’s Incarnation as the Son of God, a deliberate pilgrimage to the Cross for the salvation of all men, culminated in the brutal Passion (Latin, passionem, meaning, “suffering”, “enduring”) on Good Friday. After the Blessed Virgin, Mary of Magdala and others hastily wrapped Christ’s dead body in burial cloths and placed it in the Tomb (the Holy Sepulcher) before the start of the Sabbath at sundown of Good Friday, the Apostles and disciples wait in fear and discouragement in the Upper Room. After the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday), Mary of Magdala goes to the tomb (with other women; Matt 28:1) on Sunday morning while it is still dark to complete the anointing of Christ’s dead body. Finding the massive stone rolled away, Mary of Magdala assumes Christ’s body has been stolen and rushes back to the Upper Room to tell Peter and John.
John outpaces the older Peter to the tomb but honors Peter’s authority by not entering Christ’s tomb. Seeing the burial cloths, John realizes that Jesus’ body has not been stolen, for grave robbers would not unwrap the body until they had carried it away where they could unwrap the body undetected and steal the expensive burial cloths. John also realizes that unlike Lazarus, who staggered out of the tomb when Jesus raised him from the dead and had to be unbound by others, Christ has somehow miraculously unwrapped Himself.
Peter arrives and leads John into the tomb. Christ’s body is gone but the head cloth/napkin (a small cloth placed over the face of the dead) and the linens that wrapped the body remain. Peter realizes that Christ has deliberately left a sign of His Resurrection by carefully rolling up the head cloth and leaving it to be discovered. Peter and John both begin to believe, for John reveals in the Gospel that they don’t fully understand Scripture which insists on His Resurrection; they will come to full belief when Christ comes to the Upper Room later Easter Sunday evening.
1) The Sudarium of Oviedo (the napkin) and the Shroud of Turin (the linens) are ancient relics which may be the burial cloths found by Peter and John. The relics are mysteriously imprinted with the image of a man who bears wounds described in Christ’s Passion. The Church considers the objects worthy of veneration because they represent Christ’s Passion but stops short of declaring that they are the actual burial cloths of Christ. Read about mysterious nature of the Sudarium and Shroud and be awed.
2) While some would suggest Christ is a myth, the truth is that the Resurrection of Christ is a well-established historical event witnessed by many. Consider the truth that the Resurrection is a Historical Event (CCC 639-646, 656-658) and pray for Christ to help you always be absolutely confident in the reality of His Resurrection.
3) While the Resurrection is a historical event, it is an event that transcends history. Reflect upon the Resurrection as a Transcendent Event (CCC 647) and pray for Christ to draw you into an ever-deepening understanding and appreciation of the Resurrection.
After accomplishing His mission for the salvation of mankind and giving up His spirit, Christ’s scourged and crucified body is placed in a cold tomb hewn from stone (the Holy Sepulcher) near the place of the Crucifixion. Following darkness and earthquakes of Good Friday and the emptiness of the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday), Easter (“dawn”; “passover”) establishes a New Sabbath that celebrates the Resurrection of Christ Jesus and the salvation of many.
On Good Friday, urged by the Jewish leadership, Pilate has Christ’s tomb sealed with a giant stone and guarded by Roman soldiers for three days to make sure His disciples don’t stage a fake resurrection. At dawn on Sunday, Mary Magdalene and another Mary (not Our Lady) who witnessed Christ’s anguished death on the Cross and watched Him placed in the tomb, arrive with spices to complete the burial ritual (Mark 16:1). An angel of the Lord, blinding in appearance (“lightening”, “white”; similar to the appearance of Christ at the Transfiguration), arrives with a great earthquake and rolls back the enormous stone that seals Christ’s tomb. The Roman guards, violent and tested by battle, are nevertheless paralyzed in fear, appearing to be dead.
The Lord’s angel commands the women to not be afraid, confirms Christ has risen, instructs the women to view the empty tomb and to tell the Apostles Christ will appear in Galilee. As the fearful and joyful women rush back to the Upper Room, they encounter the Risen Christ (Matthew 28:9-10). Full of holy awe (fear and divine reverence) the two women lay on the ground, holding His feet and worshiping Him. Christ tells them not to be afraid and to tell His “brethren” (a comforting sign of forgiveness for the Apostles who abandoned Him) that He will appear to them in Galilee. The women rush to tell the Apostles and Peter and John go to the tomb and believe that Christ has risen (John 20:1-9).
1) Marvel at the astounding truth of the Resurrection: everything Christ predicts comes true; He rises from the dead with a glorified body; earthquakes occur; the angel appears to both disciples and enemies, etc.
2) Christ’s Resurrection confirms His divinity and the truth of eternal life. Review the Catechism’s reflections on the Resurrection (CCC 638-658) and pray for Christ to help you be drawn further into the Mysteries of the faith.
3) Caught up in the urgency of this world, men lose sight of the reality of the next. Reflection upon the truth of the Resurrection of the Body (CCC 655, 988-1019) and ask for Christ to help keep this truth in mind each day.
Catholic Men’s Lenten Gospel Pilgrimage – Holy Week – Friday – The Passion of Our Lord – John 18:1-19:42
Anticipated from the Fall in Eden and coming into glorious reality on Good Friday, God’s Divine Mercy is released in Christ’s Passion (Latin, passionem, meaning, “suffering”, “enduring”). Because Christ is a Divine Person, His suffering is infinite in worth, far surpassing the accumulated cost of all mankind’s sins from the beginning until the end of time. Christ’s sacrificial choice to do the Father’s will establishes the New Covenant in which men who repent, are baptized and commit themselves to Him are saved and will enjoy eternal life with God in Heaven.
The Incarnation is Christ’s deliberate pilgrimage to the Cross. The Passion narrative confirms Christ’s complete control and power: Christ anticipates His Passion and goes to Jerusalem to meet it; Christ does not avoid capture as He so easily did multiple times (Luke 4:30, John 7:45); Christ knows Judas has betrayed Him but does not retreat; Christ utterance of the Holy Name (“I AM”; John 18:5) knocks several hundred soldiers and guards to the ground; though He never loses a verbal debate with His enemies, Christ does not debate the Jewish leadership or Pilate; though He has the power to quell raging storms and raise the dead, He does not resist beating, mocking scourging or the Crucifixion; He declares victory from the Cross (“My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” is a shorthand reference to the total victory of Psalm 22); before dying, Christ declares, “It is accomplished” (John 19:30).
Christ’s accomplishment is astounding: He drinks the 4th Cup of His Passover (began at the Last Supper), establishing the Eucharist; His Kingdom is established; His Catholic Church is established and will convert and save billions of people, His enemies fate is cast (Satan is defeated, death is defeated, the Jewish leadership/Temple sacrificial system will fall in 70 A.D.; The Roman Empire is converted 312 A.D.). What Christ accomplishes in His Passion surpasses every human endeavor.
1) Be astounded how Christ’s establishment of the Eucharist is beyond what any man could conceive or achieve: converts the 1200 year old Passover ritual meal by becoming the Lamb of God in the Eucharist, conceives of the idea to feed mankind across millennia with His glorified Body and Blood; becomes really present in every parish Tabernacle; allows men to be in actual union with God by the Eucharist.
2) On this Good Friday, review the Catechism’s teaching on Christ’s Passion (CCC 599-630) and pray for Christ to help you grow in faith and gratitude for the Eucharist.
3) Peter, who walked with Christ for three years, spectacularly failed Christ; it is not surprising that every man denies Christ in some way each day. Reflect on Peter’s denial (CCC 1429, 1851) and pray for Christ to help you, like Peter, have deep sorrow for your denials of Him and to be forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
After the Apostles prepare for the Passover in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, Christ gathers the Twelve after sunset for the celebration of Passover. Commanded by God (Ex 12), Jews annually remembered God’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt by eating a ritual meal which recalled the Night of the Passover; prayers were said, four cups of wine were ritually drank and a lamb sacrificed at the Temple was eaten along with bitter herbs. But rather than simply “keeping” the Passover, Christ divinely transforms it, establishing the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
While Christ keeps the Passover, having all power from the Father, Christ divinely transforms it through the institution of the Eucharist, the transubstantiation of bread and wine into His Body and Blood (Matt 26:26-29). Prior to establishing the Eucharist, Christ institutes the Sacrament of Holy Orders, ordaining the Twelve Apostles into His Holy Priesthood; to offer the Eucharist, the Twelve must first become priests. Christ’s ritualistic washing of the Apostles’ feet is more than an example of humble love (“afterward, you will understand”), it confirms the 12 Apostles have the power of the priesthood; Christ’s act recalls Moses’ washing of the feet of Arron and his sons when they are consecrated priests (Lev 8:6) and the Levites (priestly class) receiving a “part”(John 13:8) from God (Num 18:20).
Christ’s washing of the Apostles’ feet is also a supreme example of humble love. Christ calls all men to follow His example of being a humble servant who loves others through self-sacrifice and service; Christ’s example is particularly critical for priests as He has specifically limited the foot washing to the Twelve. While Christ does wash Judas’ feet and allows Him to receive the Eucharist (Luke 22:21), He confirms His blessings will not be given to Judas (John 13:18).
1) Be awed by how Christ’s washing of His Apostle’s feet has become a universal sign of humble self-sacrifice and loving service which has inspired millions throughout the life of the Church.
2) Christ’s initiation of the Apostles into a new priesthood establishes the means for His Eucharist to be available to men in the Age of the Church. During Holy Week, recall Christ’s divine wisdom in the establishment of the Eucharist and the Priesthood (CCC 1406-1419) and give thanks that you can confidently receive Christ in the Catholic Mass.
3) Christ’s humble washing of the Apostle’s feet reveals the ignorance of today’s arrogant cult of self-puffery. During Holy Week, recommit to Imitate Christ (CCC 520, 1693-1696) and pray for Christ to help you find ways to imitate Him each day.
Following His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Christ teaches in the Temple during the days preceding the Passover and returns to the small town of Bethany on the Mount of Olives in the evening. Earlier, Judas, who wanted to sell the expensive oil that Mary (sister of Lazarus) used to anoint Christ and steal the proceeds, was rebuked by Christ; Judas’ long-simmering sins lead him to sneak away and he freely makes a deal to betray Christ to the Jewish leadership for a paltry 30 pieces of silver.
Commanded by God (Ex 12), Jews annually remembered God’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt by eating a ritual meal which recalled the Night of the Passover; prayers were said, four cups of wine were ritually drank and a lamb sacrificed at the Temple was eaten along with bitter herbs. Christ, the perfection of the Law, keeps the Passover, sending His Apostles to the owner of a home with the Upper Room in Jerusalem to prepare the Passover feast; after the Resurrection, Christ will appear to the Apostles in the Upper Room.
Later that evening at the Passover feast, Christ reveals that one of the Twelve will betray Him. Struggling to believe that one of them might betray Christ, each of the Apostles ask Christ if it is they. Christ again repeats that one of them will indeed betray Him (“has dipped his hand in the dish with Me”) and mysteriously alludes to the horrific fate that awaits the betrayer. Judas, the last to ask and hoping that Christ does not realize he is the betrayer, asks, “Is it I, Master?” Christ confirms Judas’ treachery.
1) Marvel at how as a Person of the Trinity, Christ establishes the Passover, “keeps” the Passover 1200 years later and then transforms the Passover by becoming the Sacrificial Lamb of God and establishing the Eucharist.
2) Most Catholic men fail to “keep” their weekly obligation to participate in Christ’s Mass (CCC 2041-2043). During Holy Week, be mournful that Christ died to establish the Eucharist (CCC 1339-1340) and pray for Christ to help you never again fail in your obligations to attend Mass each week.
3) Like Judas, men’s thoughts and actions that betray Christ through sin are known by Christ. During Holy Week, meditate upon your unavoidable Judgment (CCC 1021-1022; 1038-1041) and pray for Christ to give you the grace to live each day to honor, rather than betray, Him.
Focus on Fatherhood – Christ has commanded that every Catholic Son worthy of the Kingdom must perform Works of Mercy. Pray for Christ to help you learn, remember and regularly and daily Perform the Corporal Works of Mercy to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger and homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead.