Anyways….I literally spent the entire week thinking about Mary Magdalene and what an amazing biblical figure she was. It was really disappointing today in church when the priest didn’t mention Magdalene’s solid, constant faith, her perseverance, the sorrow she experienced and the unspeakable joy of being the first person in the entire world to see the risen Lord. He talked about Peter and John, who’d didn’t speak at all during today’s reading. Instead, it was the Magdalene who stood by the Lord through every station of the cross, who wept at His feet while He died on the Cross, who cleaned His body and prepared it for burial with the other women. It was Magdalene who saw the empty tomb first, Magdalene who ran and told the others, and after they left in disbelief, she stayed on and wept by the tomb. For her faith, unmatched by any of the other disciples, she was the first to see the risen lord, to behold His glory, and to know, and know with absolute certainty, that Jesus is God, and that He overcame death. To me, one of the most loving things in the New Testament is when Jesus speaks her name “Mary”, and she comes rushing to Him and clings to His robes. Their love for each other is so powerful that it overcomes all of the patriarchy that was around them, and it transcends mortal love.

He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Matthew 28:6
The Lord is risen….and the risen Christ has the power to save to the uttermost, all who come to Him in faith. Resurrection means to rise from the dead, never again to die. Death has no more dominion over Christ, and He had become the firstborn from the dead, paving the way for the bodily resurrection and everlasting life for all who believe in Him by grace through faith.

The Lord is risen!! Happy Easter! I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday.

Lord, the resurrection of Your Son
has given us new life and renewed hope.
Help us to live as new people
in pursuit of the Christian ideal.
Grant us wisdom to know what we must do,
the will to want to do it,
the courage to undertake it,
the perseverance to continue to do it,
and the strength to complete it.

Regina Caeli

Regina, caeli, laetare, alleluia:
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia,
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut, per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Queen of Heaven

O Queen of heaven rejoice! alleluia:
For He whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia,
Hath arisen as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray
O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; grant, we beseech Thee, that through His Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

17th April >> Instagram ~ franciscus: In every part of the world, we proclaim the great message: “The Lord is truly risen, as he said!” May Jesus, who vanquished the darkness of sin and death, grant peace to our days. #Easter

You know what’s great about being a Christian is that our entire faith is built on the testimony of women. If you think about it, we are Christians because we believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and who are the group of people our entire faith relies on? It’s the women who stayed with Jesus from the last supper all through his trial, who were overcome with grief, but still found the strength to follow Him through all the stations of the cross, when all the male apostles left him. Women like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna can attest to the fact that Jesus died, because they were there at the foot of the cross, and they can attest to the fact that He rose from the dead, because they were the first to see the risen lord. Their witness is the foundation of our entire faith. We owe them a great debt

Are you Barabbas?

Don’t you hear this sermon every year? The people chose Barabbas over Jesus, just like we choose sin over God all the time for our own selfish needs.

But I think we are looking at this wrong. We aren’t the crowds. We aren’t Pontius Pilate. We are Barabbas. You see, God is just. He had to punish someone for sin, and even though Jesus did nothing wrong and deserved to be set free, God chose to punish him, to scourge him, to crucify him and let Jesus bear the guilt of the world. 

Barabbas was not a good guy. We don’t know the extent of his sin, but he did not deserve to go free. Just like us. You. Me. All of us are Barabbas.

An Explanation of the Traditional Russian Orthodox Three-bar Cross

The symbolism of the “complete” Cross (much of which is contained in the Old Rite Russian prosphora seal and on metal and wood icons) is quite complex. Since the OId Rite tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church is much richer than the New Rite Church in its use of symbolism to teach the faithful, this article  should be of benefit to those unfamiliar with this tradition.

Through the Cross came our Salvation. We are constantly reminded that Christ died for us when we see the Image of the Cross (depicting the crucified Lord), and we are reminded that He rose from the dead when we behold the Image of Christ “Not made by hands” (Slavonic: Нерукутвореному образъ) on the towel (depicting the Lord risen frem the dead).

Worshipping the crucified Lord are two flying angels, with the inscription between them: “Angels of the Lord” (in Slavonic: Ангели Господни). In some depictions of the Cross the Angels are bearing an image of the Holy Trinity, but traditions vary in allowing this; usually the Angels are simply holding towels, indicating their position as messengers who   serve the Lord and who wait on Him.

The top bar of the Cross is the title-board which Pilate ordered to be hung in mockery over Christ’s head. On this board was inscribed: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” in Hebrew, Greek and Latin (abbreviated to the Greek initials ‘INBI’, or the Latin initials 'INRI’ in the Western tradition). This has been replaced with the Christian inscription: “King of Glory” (Slavonic: Царь славы), placed below the knees of the angels. [Note that while the use of the inscription 'І.Н.Ц.І.’ does not usually appear in the Russian tradition, examples of its occurrence are occasionally found on newer Russian Crosses.] On the title-board is inscribed the initials 'IC XC’, being the first and last letters of Christ’s name in Greek (Greek: Iisous Khristos; Old Rite Slavonic: Ісоусъ Христосъ; New Rite Slavonic: Іисусъ Христосъ). In addition, just above Christ’s arms we see the inscription: 'NIKA’, which in Greek means: “He conquers” or “He is victorious.” [Frequently, especially on the Greek and New Rite Russian prosphora seal, we see these last two inscriptions together with the simple two-barred Cross: 'IC XC NI KA’, meaning: “Jesus Christ is victorious” (i.e., over death and sin). Note that in the proper Orthodox tradition the Saviour does not wear a crown of thorns (as in the Western tradition), nor is He portrayed alive on the Cross, nor in any aspect of suffering, but in a state of humble and peaceful repose, with inclined head. Also note that His feet are nailed with two nails.]

The middle bar is that on which the Lord’s hands were nailed. On either top corner we see the depiction of the sun (left; in Slavonic: солнца) and the moon (right; in Slavonic: луна), for “The sun hid its light, and the moon turned to blood.” (Joel 2:31) The inscription: “Son of God” (Slavonic: Сынъ Божіи) is placed on both sides of Christ’s head, and below His arms we read the inscription: “We bow down before Thy Cross, O Master, and we worship Thy holy Resurrection” (in Slavonic: Кресту Твоему покломняемся Владыко, и святое воскресение Твое славимъ). The halo of Christ is inscribed with the Greek letters 'w ov’, meaning: 'The Being’ or 'He Who is’, to remind us that Christ is the same God Who identified Himself with those words to Moses in the Old Law.

Behind the body of Christ, on either side, are a lance (which pierced Him) and a sponge (which was soaked with gall or vinegar and offered Him to drink) on a pole made of reed or cane. The lance (on the left:) is marked “К” in Slavonic; standing for “копие”, while the sponge (on the right) is marked “Т”, standing for: “трость” (which means: 'reed’ or 'cane’). [On some Crosses one might see instead of “Т” the inscription “Г” which stands for “губка” (sponge) in Slavonic.] On the body of Christ is depicted blood and water flowing forth from His side.

The slanted bottom bar is the foot-brace. In prayers for the Ninth Hour, the Church likens the Cross to a type of balance of righteousness:

“Between two thieves Thy Cross did prove to be a balance of righteousness: wherefore one of them was dragged down to Hades by the weight of his blasphemy [the balance points downward], whereas the other was lightened of his transgressions unto the comprehension of theology [the balance points upward]. O Christ God, glory to Thee.”

The city of Jerusalem is depicted in the background, for Christ was crucified outside the city walls. By the foot of the Cross are the letters: “Г Г” standing for 'Mount Golgotha’ (in Slavonic: Гора Голгофы); this is the hill outside the city gates upon which Christ was crucified. Below the feet of Christ are four Slavonic letters with abbreviation marks: “М.Л.Р.Б.”, meaning: “The place of the skull, where Adam was” (in    Slavonic: Место лобное рай бысть). Hidden in a cave under the earth is 'the skull of Adam’ (for by pious tradition it is said that Christ was crucified at preciseIy the same place where Adam was buried), identified with the letters: “Г А” (in Slavonic: глава Адамла). We are thus reminded that Adam our forefather lost Paradise through the tree from which he wrongIy partook; Christ is the new Adam, bringing us Salvation and Paradise through the tree of the Cross.

Why Are the Bible’s Easter Accounts Different? 

Anyone who has read the Gospels in more than a cursory manner has come across what appear to be contradictions between them as they report the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth. This is no less true when we consider how they describe the most important event of all: the resurrection of Christ. If this event is not historical, says St. Paul, “our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). The stakes are quite high indeed.

Speaking of St. Paul: before we consider apparent contradictions in the Gospels regarding Easter, we must remember that the Gospels are not our earliest written accounts of Jesus’ resurrection: those would be the letters of Paul. In other words, even if the Gospels had never been composed, there would still be very plausible literary testimony of the event, evidence which a skeptic must deal with. 1 Corinthians 15, which discusses the Resurrection, was written possibly as early as A.D. 53, most likely prior to the publishing of at least some of the Gospels. And what’s more, this chapter contains an even earlier ancient “creed” of sorts, crystallizing Easter faith in just a few lines (1 Cor. 15:3–7).

But, even though the Gospels are not our earliest or only written sources on Easter, discrepancies in how they report resurrection phenomena have caused many to call into question their historical authenticity.

The empty tomb accounts

In Mark (which the majority of biblical scholars contend was the first Gospel composed), when women disciples of Jesus arrive at the tomb early on Easter Sunday, the stone has already been rolled away. A “young man” in dazzling raiment (in all likelihood, an angel) is inside the tomb. But in Luke’s account, two men are inside. Matthew’s account has Mary Magdalene and another Mary arriving at the still-sealed tomb, but an earthquake suddenly occurs, whereupon an angel descends and rolls back the heavy stone. Three Gospels, and seemingly three different accounts.

Mark, Matthew, and Luke also give us slightly different lists of exactly which women were present at the empty tomb. Mark has these women respond in fear, and states that they said nothing about this to anyone. In Matthew’s account, the two women meet Jesus on their way to inform the disciples of the Easter news. Luke does not say that they ran into Jesus, but rather that they immediately told the disciples, who didn’t buy their story. Same Gospels, and again, the accounts seem to differ.

So, why the apparent differences?

As much as we might want the Gospels to conform to our modern conventions of history writing, they don’t read like contemporary police reports. But that doesn’t mean they don’t contain reliable accounts. In fact, they are perfectly consonant with how the ancients recorded history. The key is to understand the literary conventions of their time, which was  the mid-first century A.D. ,  and how the Gospels fit into that mold.

Ancient biographies

Scholars like Michael Licona have noted that the genre of ancient literature that the Gospels most closely resemble is that of Greco-Roman biography. In reporting the speeches and activities of famous figures, writers utilized techniques in recording history that were perfectly acceptable at the time, such as compression (truncating longer speeches for the sake of brevity). The Gospel writers did this as well: they report that Jesus held crowds spellbound for hours with his preaching, yet his recorded sermons can be read in mere minutes.

Events could also be moved around in a narrative for thematic reasons. For example, did Jesus “cleanse” the temple at the beginning of his public ministry (John 2:13-22), or towards the end as in the synoptics (Matthew, Mark, Luke)? Or did he do it twice? In all likelihood, Jesus’ action at the temple occurred towards the end of his life, enraging the authorities, and precipitating his arrest, but John places it at the beginning of his Gospel for symbolic reasons.

A culture of storytelling by memory

We also need to consider the way students (disciples) were taught in the Jewish tradition. This was a culture of memorization. Scholar Craig Keener reports that students in Jesus’ day were capable of memorizing prodigious amounts of both speeches and sacred texts. But even so, Jesus’ disciples were not expected to “parrot” his teachings, repeating them verbatim. In fact, if they had, they would have been considered poor students. Even Jesus himself probably gave different versions of the same basic “talk” as he preached in various settings. One example could be the similarities between the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5-7, and the “Sermon on the Plain” in Luke 6:17-49.

Having a proper understanding of Jesus’ message was the key, which was proven by an ability to accurately re-present the essence—or the “gist”—of Jesus’ teachings in a way that would be relevant to one’s audience and their particular needs. The one thing disciples were most assuredly not allowed to do was to invent sayings or deeds of Jesus.

Evaluating the apparent differences

So let’s apply all of this to the synoptic Gospel accounts of the first Easter. Even though there is variance in secondary details (how many angels were at the tomb, for example), the basic message is the same: Jesus’ tomb was found to be empty early on Sunday morning, and the resurrected Christ later appeared to various disciples over a period of time.

What might be some reasons for these varying secondary details?

Ironically, the fact that these accounts are not in verbatim agreement actually enhances the probability that they are historical. Each Evangelist is making use of different sources of eyewitness testimony when composing his Gospel. The Evangelists didn’t “cut and paste” a prefabricated Easter account into their respective Gospels.

There are also literary or thematic reasons for the differences. In Mark’s Gospel, as noted above, the women react fearfully. Fear –even terror—in the presence of the divine is a constant Markan motif. When it comes to describing the most stupendous of all miracles—Jesus’ resurrection— Mark’s not about to change his tune.

What of the variances in the lists of women who may or may not have been present? It’s reasonable that they all were present, but that each evangelist is highlighting the names of those who may have been personally known or particularly important to his readers. The fact that some women were the first to encounter the empty tomb and the Risen Jesus is what’s important here - and this is not something that the Gospel writers would have been eager to admit were it not the case. The testimony of women in the first-century Jewish world was not considered reliable in a court of law. If one’s goal at this time was to convince readers that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and one made up a story about his being raised from the dead, one certainly wouldn’t present women as the first to discover the empty tomb and meet the Resurrected Jesus  -  unless that’s exactly what actually happened, as embarrassing as this might be in that particular cultural context.

All in all, when the Gospels are held up to the standards of first-century Greco-Roman historical writing, and to the standards of Jewish transmission of rabbinical teaching common to the period, they hold up quite well indeed. This is no less true when one considers their accounts of the (literally) earth-shaking events of the first Easter.

Sickly Sweet

Pairing: Robb Stark x Reader 

Request:  8 and/or 17 with Robb Stark (im still not over his death -yes i know its been three seasons lmao) thank youu you’re awesomee

Prompt 1:  “Just pretend to be my date.”

Prompt 2:  I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep on you !”

Today was awful. You’d woken up with a stuffy nose and a terrible cough, one of the wolves tore up your favorite pair of boots, Sansa ate the last peach at breakfast, and now Lord Stark was informing everyone who sat at the table that there would be a feast in honor of Robb’s courage in helping bring him back home from Winterfell. 

From across the table, Robb was sat with his arms crossed, “Father, there is no reason to celebrate. I was simply doing what needed to be done”. 

“Nonsense”, Ned boasted, “You have proved to me and all the seven kingdoms that you are a man and a warrior. All the northern houses along with House Frey and House Tully will be here as a token of our gratitude in their aid in the help to get me away from the Lannister, so you are all to be on your best behavior. That includes you Y/N, your father would expect nothing less from you if he was here”. 

You give Lord Stark and small nod and quickly grab for your water before you start coughing up the liquid that’s starting to form in your chest. In your mind, you cursed the cold air of Winterfell and wished that your late father had demanded that you be kept under the protection of your Uncle Reny at Storm’s End instead. It was always so much warmer there and this cold probably would’ve never happened if you weren’t constantly outside in the snow. 

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There wasn’t any sunlight that morning. White snow coated the ground and freezing the air around the Shepherds’ camp. It was so cold and gray, in fact, that the pegasi and wyverns weren’t allowed to join the next campaign, which began with a battle on the very same, frozen morning.

Although despite the snow falling heavily and blanketing the Valmese mountains in frosty, hypothermia-inducing snow, you hardly minded. After all, you couldn’t have felt warmer. Being wrapped up in the strong, safe arms of your personal heater/husband, Priam, definitely helped beat away the cold. 

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That’s a classic video that I am posting every year! That’s how Orthodox Christians in Ghana celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord!


28th May >> Pope Francis’ Regina Coeli Address: On the Ascension
Also Condemns Manchester and Egypt Attacks, Remembers Genoa Visit and Social Communications’ Day

Below, please find an English translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Regina Coeli with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:

* * *

Before the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, in Italy and in other countries, the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, 40 days after Easter, is celebrated. With how today’s Gospel of Matthew (cf. Mt 28: 16-20) concludes, we are presented with the moment of the definitive departure of the Risen Lord from His disciples. The scene is set in Galilee, the place where Jesus had called them to follow Him and form the first nucleus of His new community. Now those disciples have gone through the “fire” of Passion and Resurrection; At the sight of the Risen Lord, they bow to Him, some are still doubtful. To this frightened community, Jesus leaves the immense task of evangelizing the world; And concretizes this assignment, ordering them to teach and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit] (cf. v. 19).

The Ascension of Jesus into heaven, thus, constitutes the end of the mission the Son has received from the Father and the beginning of the continuation of this mission of the Church. From this moment, in fact, the presence of Christ in the world is mediated by His disciples, by those who believe in Him and announce Him. This mission will last until the end of history and will enjoy the assistance of the Risen Lord daily, Who assures: “I am with you every day, until the end of the world” (v. 20).

His presence brings strength in persecutions, comfort in tribulations, support in the difficult situations which meet the mission and proclamation of the Gospel. The Ascension reminds us of this assistance of Jesus and of His Spirit that gives confidence and security to our Christian witness in the world. He reveals to us why the Church exists: She exists to proclaim the Gospel, only for that! And also, the joy of the Church is to announce the Gospel. We are all baptized by the Church. Today, we are invited to understand better that God has given us great dignity and responsibility to announce it to the world, to make it accessible to humanity. That is our dignity, this is the greatest honor of each of us, of all baptized!

On this Day of the Ascension, as we turn our gaze to heaven, where Christ ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father, we strengthen our footsteps on earth to continue with enthusiasm and courage on our journey, our mission of witnessing and living the Gospel in every environment. However, we are well aware that this does not depend primarily on our strengths, organizational skills and human resources. Only with the light and strength of the Holy Spirit, can we effectively fulfill our mission of making Jesus’ love and tenderness more and more to the knowledge and experience of others.

We ask the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the goods of heaven, which the Lord promises us, and become more and more credible witnesses of His Resurrection, of True Life.

[Original text: English] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

After Regina Coeli:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I want to express my closeness to my dear brother [Coptic Orthodox] Pope Tawadros II and the Orthodox Coptic community in Egypt, which two days ago suffered another act of fierce violence. Victims, faithful, including children, were going to a sanctuary to pray, and were killed when they refused to deny their Christian faith. The Lord welcomes these brave witnesses in His peace, and may He convert the hearts of the violent.

We also pray for the victims of the terrible attack on Manchester last Monday, where so many young lives have been cruelly taken. We are close to the families and those who weep for those lost.

Today, one celebrates World Social Communications Day, on the theme “Do not be afraid because I am with you” (Is 43.5). Social media offer the opportunity to share and disseminate news instantly; Such news can be beautiful or bad, true or false; Pray for communication, in all its forms, to be truly constructive, in the service of truth by refusing prejudices and by spreading hope and trust in our time.

I greet you all, dear Romans and pilgrims: families, parish groups, associations, schools.

In particular, I greet the faithful from Colorado; The Bavarian folk groups who came for the great parade in the centenary of the patron saint of Bavaria; And the Polish faithful, with a blessing also for those attending the pilgrimage to the Piekary Shrine.

I greet the Comboni Missionaries, who celebrate 150 years since their foundation; The pilgrimage of the Sisters of Ascoli Piceno; The groups of Naples, Scandicci, Thiesi, Nonantola, and the pupils of the school “Sacred Heart of the Incarnate Word” of Palermo.

A special thought and encouragement goes to the representatives of voluntary associations that promote the donation of organs, “noble and meritorious act” (Catechism, No. 2296). I would also like to welcome the employees of Mediaset Roma, with the hope that their work situation may be resolved, with the aim of realizing the company’s goodwill, not only its profits, but respecting the rights of all people involved.

I want to conclude with great greetings to all the people of Genoa and a great thank you for their warm welcome that I received yesterday. May the Lord bless them abundantly, and may Our Lady of the Guard keep them.

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov] Zenit.