Last week’s news was full of the devastating images of the Nepal earthquake, and you have probably heard Father Daniel mention Nepal in the intercessory prayers of the Mass. After having seen the news give reports on many disasters and tragedies over the years, I realize how hard it is to feel the weight of a event occurring on the other side of the globe, even one as cataclysmic as this. We might say a little prayer for them, thank God that we weren’t there, and move on with our lives. It is difficult to love what we do not know. For me, however, this latest cataclysm to cross my screen during the CNN Breaking News reel was different. Nepal was my home for sixteen years, and it been the home of three generations of my family. I was born in Kathmandu, the city whose destruction has inundated the news. I went on school field trips to Patan Durbar Square, where the temples that we marveled at are now little more than rubble. I passed by the iconic Dharahara Tower every weekend on the way to play soccer, which now looks like a great tree that has been cut to its stump.

I’ve spent the last week not quite sure what to do with myself. I have been busying texting and calling friends from Nepal that are now in the US, checking to see whether their families and friends are safe. We received word quite quickly that our uncle and aunt were safe, and that most of our expatriate friends had survived as well. My old school had a couple of walls cave in, but nobody in that area was injured. The same cannot be said for the rest of the city and the surrounding villages. We still have yet to hear from many of our good Nepali friends. My home has been reduced to panic and chaos, and here I am, in beautiful Waco, entering the final stretch of my undergraduate career. It is odd and confusing to know that I will never again see the place I called my home for so long. The city that I grew up to love is gone. Most of the old buildings are completely destroyed, and the infrastructure of the rest of the city has been badly damaged. At the present time the death toll is 7500, but my father tells me that it will be months before they will be able to survey the surrounding villages, where the majority of the damage, and deaths, will have happened. Already we know that entire villages, which many of us knew as popular stops along Himalayan trek routes, have been completely wiped out.

This is a loss with a weight that I feel helpless to convey fully. I cannot convey it any more than I was able to convey the loss of leaving Nepal when my family moved to the US. It can only be described as a sort of death. Yet this loss cannot be remotely comparable to the millions who have been affected in Nepal. Already, the news is filled with tragic stories of children orphaned and homes destroyed, and pictures of mangled bodies and bloodied bricks.

While the news begins to forget about Nepal, I ask you to continue to pray for the people there in whatever small way you can. Like I said at the beginning, it is hard to love what you do not know. For all of you, this event is utterly foreign (in fact, Nepal is literally on the other side of the world from Texas). I do not ask for heroic acts of compassion, but please remember Nepal in your prayers. Catholic Relief Services and Aid to the Church in Need are two major Catholic organizations that you can support that are responding to the needs in Nepal . Most dioceses in the US will be taking up special collections at a Mass sometime this month to aid in the recovery.

It is easy in these times to wonder what is His holy plan. Yet, I thank God that He does have a plan, in which He will “reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth, or things in heaven…” Let us remember those who are our brothers and sisters in Nepal, whether through the brotherhood of man, or the brotherhood of Christ. Let us ask for God to have mercy on them, to pour out His loving kindness upon them, and to fill them with His peace.

Zach Watters is a senior University Scholars major at Baylor who became Catholic in April of 2014. Read more about his upbringing in Nepal and the story of his journey to become Catholic.

This recording was made on April 19, 2015 on the 3rd Sunday of Easter by Fr. Daniel Liu. Please visit http://www.baylorcatholic.org for more information.

 

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This recording was made on April 12, 2015 on Divine Mercy Sunday by Fr. Daniel Liu. Please visit http://www.baylorcatholic.org for more information.

 

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I think one of the scariest questions a Catholic Christian ponders is the call to abandon all and follow Jesus more closely. When most people are asked their opinions on the consecrated, religious, eremitic life, etc., they immediately think of the “sacrifices” involved. The thought of giving up earthly things, like a spouse, children, parents, Louis Vuitton, or Ferrari’s, arises and quenches the beauty of emptying ourselves so that we can receive all Christ desires to give. However, the sacrifice is definitely worth it. The Saints tell us the beauty of following Christ closely. St. Anthony of Padua said that a man who abandons all may seem to be alone but that he is not alone because in Christ he has found his home, his repose and his peace.

I think one of the scariest questions a Catholic Christian ponders is the call to abandon all and follow Jesus more closely. When most people are asked their opinions on the consecrated, religious, eremitic life, etc., they immediately think of the “sacrifices” involved. The thought of giving up earthly things, like a spouse, children, parents, Louis Vuitton, or Ferrari’s, arises and quenches the beauty of emptying ourselves so that we can receive all Christ desires to give. However, the sacrifice is definitely worth it. The Saints tell us the beauty of following Christ closely. St. Anthony of Padua said that a man who abandons all may seem to be alone but that he is not alone because in Christ he has found his home, his repose and his peace.

My own discernment journey started towards the end of the fall semester of my freshman year in college, largely due to praying the Rosary daily. The more I prayed, the more I wanted to pray. The benefit of praying the Rosary daily was that I learned to listen to the yearnings of God’s Heart through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I felt more peace than ever before and begged Our Lord that this peace may remain with me forever. I wanted to pray more and more because I derived boundless joy from spending more time with God and from doing the things that pleased Him. My time in prayer ignited a spark in my heart to surrender my will to Christ and to embrace all His marvelous graces. I was and still am a long way from making a commitment to become a priest, but I had been given a brief taste of the beauty of seeking God’ will and I consequently began searching for Him everywhere.

It was not until I transferred to Baylor and found Saint Peter’s that I finally found what my heart was searching for. I renewed my consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary and begged her to lead me to her Son, and she did so instantly. My soul was immediately flooded with consolations and spiritual experiences, and I felt so drawn to the Eucharist that I had to be kicked out of the Chapel every night. Contrary to what one may think, my grades did not suffer at all. Rather, they improved dramatically and I had fantastic grades that semester, primarily because Christ was my life, and everything else fell into place when He was guiding me. I pursued Christ with all my strength, and while He gradually withdrew me from worldly pleasures, He showed me how perfect His Will is. He does not try to impose His “opinion” on us and then punish us when we do not comply. Rather, He knows the end from the beginning and knows what by path we may approach him best. He then patiently invites us to accept His will not simply because that is the best option for us but because we love Him. His calling may not necessarily be to the religious or consecrated life or even to the priesthood. He might be calling some of us to get married. We must, however, discern His will for us rather than make wrong assumptions so that our joy will be complete.

The most ideal model for us to have is the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Louis de Montfort said that she is the easiest and most perfect way of approaching Our Lord. She is the earthly paradise of Jesus Christ, the new Adam, and it is in her that we may find the Lord. Furthermore, it is in her that we may truly find the unique and precious vocation that Our Lord calls us to and it is with her help that we can respond “Let it be done to me according to thy word” – Luke 1:38. Finally, there is nothing to fear because, as St. John Paul II said, we lose nothing when the reward we seek is Christ. Jesus, our One True Master, has shown us the way: a way of simplicity and self-surrender. Let us then follow Him, fearing nothing because He has conquered the world!

This recording was made on April 5, 2015 on Easter Sunday by Fr. Daniel Liu. Please visit http://www.baylorcatholic.org for more information.

 

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In 587 BC, the Temple of Solomon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. The temple had been first described to Moses. King David had conquered Jerusalem and made the preparations for its construction. Solomon, the wisest of the kings, had completed it within the fleeting golden age of his reign. Its fame spread throughout the world, so that people from as far as Ethiopia came on pilgrimage, bringing back with them the faith of the Jews. King after king dishonored the temple, abusing its sacrifices and forgetting proper Jewish worship. Finally, the boy-king Josiah came to power. Holy and righteous, he reestablished the temple cult and preserved the Torah. He charged into battle against the Egyptians at Meggido, and at the age of 33 fell to their archers.

Every king that followed failed the nation, and the nation slipped back into its sins. The prophet Jeremiah, who had begun his ministry at the time of Josiah, cried out in vain for the repentance of the nation. Finally, Jerusalem was invaded and conquered. When they rose up again, they were again invaded. This time, the temple was destroyed.

Jeremiah, sitting among the rubble of the temple mount, saw the dejection of Israel. He had seen its height under Josiah, and now its total shame under the thumb of the Babylonians. According to legend, he cried out to God in five hymns of lamentation, which became the new liturgy performed on the Temple Mount: the book of Lamentations.

The book of Lamentations is almost entirely absent from the readings during Sunday and Daily Mass. The material is heart-wrenchingly and at times sickening. Jerusalem is compared to an abandoned adulterer, a betrayed friend, a hunted animal. Jeremiah eats gravel and is even forced to vomit. It is arguably one of the most painful books in scripture. Therefore, it is left out of the readings. There is one exception: the service of Tenebrae.

Tenebrae is a combination of the Offices of Matins and Lauds for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Holy Week. The Office is the set of prayers prayed every day by priests, religious, and many lay people, designed by the church to be prayed throughout the day. Matins is the early morning service (normally sung at 3 or 4 AM) that contains readings from throughout the Bible. The office of Lauds (6 AM), like the other offices, consists entirely of psalms and canticles. On these three days, Matins reads through the Lamentations of Jeremiah as an image for the sufferings of Christ. Over time, it became a tradition for lay people to come to monasteries, priories, and eventually churches to participate on one night of Holy Week in the prayers of the religious.

We too have lost our King at the young age of 33 to a shower of the Enemies’ arrows. We have seen the affliction and bitterness in the world around us. We have suffered under the unjust, and cried out to God because of it. The sufferings in Chapter 3 of Jeremiah “I am the man who has suffered under the rod of His wrath” is the central image that unites Christ’s sufferings with the sufferings of man. As Hebrews says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: that, through the grace of God, he might taste death for all.”

As each reading is given, one of the candles on the hearse (a large triangular candelabra) are put out, and the lights are dimmed. We enter into the tomb with Christ, into “darkness without any light.” As the final lights turn off, and we are shrouded in darkness, a loud rumble begins. The congregation bangs and rattles the pews, as Christ in Hell breaks down the bars of Hell and rises victorious with all the faithful in His hands. The battle is not yet over, and there is no celebration. As a sign of the victory to be accomplished, one candle, still lit, is hidden behind the altar, like Christ in the tomb.

The service serves as a summary of all the Triduum to come, playing out the drama from Wednesday to Sunday’s vigil step by step. Its spirituality rests on the final verse of Lamentations, “restore us for Your sake O Lord, and we will be restored! Renew our days as of old! Or have You utterly forsaken us? Are you exceedingly angry with us?” To which God responds with a single Word, born, crucified, and risen.

This recording was made on March 15, 2015 on the 3rd Sunday of Lent, by Fr. Daniel Liu. Please visit http://www.baylorcatholic.org for more information.

 

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This recording was made on March 8, 2015 on the 1st Sunday of Lent, by Fr. Daniel Liu. Please visit http://www.baylorcatholic.org for more information.

 

To download click here.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

This recording was made on March 1, 2015 on the 1st Sunday of Lent, by Fr. Daniel Liu. Please visit http://www.baylorcatholic.org for more information.

 

To download click here.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

This recording was made on Feb. 22, 2015 on the 1st Sunday of Lent, by Fr. Jonathan Raia, Vocation Director for the Diocese of Austin.  Please visit http://www.baylorcatholic.org for more information.

 

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