In what was a historic first for the Archdiocese of Denver, the exhumed remains of a potential saint were laid to rest at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception June 7.
Among the many great treasures of being a Christian is the treasury of inspired reflections we have given to us in our unbroken Christian tradition; our family history. For example, the writings of the early fathers of the church. As a member of the clergy, a Catholic deacon, I was asked to pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily upon my ordination. In fact, since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has encouraged ALL of the faithful, clergy, consecrated religious and lay faithful to do so. This beautiful format for prayer places us in solidarity of worship with the Church universal. In its Office of Readings we find selective quotations and citations from our history, which open up the treasury of which I write – on a daily basis – for our prayerful reflection. They can – and they do – change your life. However, like all gifts, they must be received and unwrapped. More and more of the faithful are finding the treasure and growing in their relationship with the Living God as they feast on these beautiful readings from our family history On this Holy Saturday, we are offered in the Liturgy of the Hours an exquisite excerpt from a Second Century Bishop of Sardis named Melito. We present the holy Bishop's inspired words below. This is the day when we are invited into the deep, hope filled prayer of the whole Church as we prepare for the great Easter Vigil. Please, take time out of the morning to sit in prayer and read this homily. We also present one of the multiple icons, which this mystery has inspired to enhance our prayerful reflection for the Great Easter Vigil in which we will soon participate. Now, with the Church joined in communion, in heaven and on earth, through the centuries, let us wait at the tomb in holy silence. ***** Bishop Melito of Sardis: The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday The Lord's descent into the underworld Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden. See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree. I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you. Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity. This was first posted April 15, 2017 at Catholic Online
It was a powerful, solemn scene at Planned Parenthood in Stapleton, Colorado on Saturday morning as Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila led some 1,800 Catholics in a Eucharistic procession seven times around the abortion clinic.
What happened to Mary after Christ died? And how did Peter deal with being the rock Christ commissioned him to be? This is precisely the story that is explored in "Full of Grace", the tender, contemplative and beautiful new film from writer/director Andrew Hyatt. The story focuses on Mary’s final days on Earth before she is assumed into Heaven, and it intimately captures the relationship between her and her son’s successor, Peter. "Full of Grace" is a new kind of Christian film, one that deviates from the typical model of most Christian films. Described by Hyatt as a “cinematic prayer,” the film is perhaps the first of its kind. The first 15 minutes of the film is intentionally paced slowly so as to prepare the audience and put them in the right mind set for viewing the film. “Everything about the film is intentional,” he said. “This experience requires something of the audience to put in front of the film. The film, like scripture, should speak to you wherever you’re at in your life.” Hyatt also sought to take these central biblical characters who are often perceived as being perfect and humanize them, making them relatable. Not since Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ have biblical characters been depicted as fallible and as human as they are in "Full of Grace". “One of the things we really wanted to do in the film was put the flesh on the bones of these characters,” Hyatt said. “They were living, breathing people that had the same experience as we do in our faith.” Noam Jenkins plays a doubtful but faithful Peter, and Bahia Haifi is perfectly cast as a noticeably aging but strikingly wise Mother Mary. The film focuses on the tender relationship between the two. Haifi’s performance as Mary is the true highlight of the film; the dialogue ebbs and flows throughout the film but always peaks when she speaks. Her humble demeanor and tender disposition is exactly as one would expect her to be in reality, and the wisdom she imparts through the film is hauntingly relevant to any walk of life, especially that of Christians. Hyatt sought to make a film that didn’t depict the Christian life as being one that’s easy; after all, that hasn’t been his experience. Born in Colorado, he grew up in the Church and went to St. Thomas More Catholic school. However, once he hit college, he dropped his faith completely. “My faith didn’t have anything interesting to say when put up against the temptation of the world,” Hyatt said. In 2008, though, Hyatt experienced a conversion, which he vividly remembers. He was in a hotel in Toronto, and he said that “literally, God showed up.” He turned his life over to the Lord at that point, but it wasn’t an easy process. “It wasn’t like I said ‘yes’ to Christ and then everything was wrapped up with a nice bow,” Hyatt said. “It took a few years of extracting myself from that life.” After kickstarting his film career with two relatively successful films, Hyatt was approached by Outside Da Box, a Catholic, nonprofit production company, about making "Full of Grace". He initially turned down the project. He never had a desire to make a Christian film, but in getting to know fellow producers T.J. Berden and Eric Groth, he entertained the idea and wrote a draft of the script. He wanted to write a story that hadn’t been told before, he said, but also one that didn’t fall into the stereotype of most Christian films. “What I could only do was make something that I was interested in,” he said. “I needed to make something that spoke to me and to my experience. My experience is that [faith] is messy and that we have dark times and good times. I could only make something that I felt spoke to that deeper truth.” Despite writing a draft for the script, Hyatt still wasn’t interested in making the film. He was a young filmmaker full of worldly ambition, and he felt making a Christian film was beneath him. “I was waiting for bigger, better things that were surely going to come…what a big mistake that was,” he said. God began systematically closing doors in his life until "Full of Grace" was all he had left to do. For 18 months, Hyatt had no work. A new father, he and his wife burned through all of their savings until they only had $200 to their name. They had just let go of their lease on their apartment, they had nothing left, when he got a call from Berden and Groth informing him they raised the money for "Full of Grace". They asked if he was interested in making the film. “Had I not had nothing, I’m pretty sure I would’ve said no,”Hyatt said. “But there was literally nothing, so I said OK.” The fruits of the film speak for themselves. “Making 'Full of Grace' was the first time on my entire life that I’ve been 100 percent obedient to what God wanted me to do,” Hyatt said. “To see the fruit of God’s work now in the outcome just blows me away. It’s nothing I can take credit for.” For more information on "Full of Grace", visit fullofgracefilm.com. "Full of Grace" was released digitally and on DVD on January 5 through Cinedigm. Posted with permission from Denver Catholic.