Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jesus' Folded Napkin: UnFolded

I receive a lot of emails as I'm sure you do. I delete a lot of emails after reading the first line. I dislike emails that have a fluff sentiment, whether religious or secular, THAT states- if you send this email to 8 friends you will have good luck, prayer answered, a financial wind-fall, blah, blah, blah. Phooey, that's Christian voodoo!

I make a habit of checking out suspect emails. I look at a few fact-checking sites like Snopes.com...but I don't always trust this source either. It tends to have liberal leanings and if the questionable email is political...I look at a couple of  other sources. The one time I didn't research and passed on an email...I got nailed by my brother-in-law. Ouch. So I try to be careful...and if it's a darling email, I will forward it with the note: I'm not sure if this is true, but it's a nice thought.

Okay, now that I've stated this: the email below is a lovely one. BUT, I had to research it. I will let you read it for the pure enjoyment. The message is beautiful and uplifting..full of hope. After the story, I'll tell you what I found:

Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection?

The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. It was neatly folded and placed at the head of that stony coffin.

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. (The body of Our Lord was missing)

She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple...Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple out ran Peter and got there first. He stopped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in.

Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus' head was folded up and lying to the side.

Was that important? Absolutely! Is it really significant? Yes!

In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day.
The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition.
When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it.

The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating,
and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished..

Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard,
and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table.

The servant would then know to clear the table.. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, "I'm finished."

But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate,
the servant would not dare touch the table, because..........
The folded napkin meant, "I'm coming back!" (end of email)
Numerous Bible study sources have been checked out and nothing about this alleged Jewish custom of the folded napkins had been found.  No Bible scholars could verify the meaning of the folded napkin. If you find one, please, let me know.
Additionally, a Jewish rabbi of TruthOrFiction.com who has been a life-long Orthodox Jew, a Jewish scholar, and lives in Jerusalem, Israel, said he’d never heard of it.

 In my search for the "truth", I didn't find much more than the above...until I came to the comments left at
http://www.returningking.com/?p=78. The following are the ones of interest:

1) According to Jewish tradition, which by the way still goes on today, when a Jewish male is buried his Prayer Shawl (Tallit) is used to wrap the the head where the face is showing. The other disciple, which is John, KNEW every little detail of The Lord’s habits. When men attended the Synagogue, each man left his Tallit there. Since all the Tallit looked the same, the only way a man could distinguish his from all the others was the way it was folded. John immediately KNEW Jesus had risen…………all because John recognized our Lord’s “SIGNATURE” (fold)!!!!!  (Carl)

2) I was told it was a tradition of ‘carpenters’ of that day. When a job was finished and the persons ordering the work were not present, the carpenter would fold and leave behind the handkerchief he used to wipe his brow. This was the equivalent of passing a self-imposed “final inspection and a certificate of completion”, as they did not have building inspectors then. This signaled that the job was done. (jeffery Cory)

3) The position or form of the clothes was seen by the early Church especially to support the clear and unmistakable affirmation that the body had not been removed, for had the body been stolen, grave robbers would not have taken the time to unwrap the linens and certainly not have placed the soudarion rolled up neatly in its place. (from the Catholic Bulletin.com)

They all make sense. #2 was most interesting given the fact that Jesus was a carpenter, and if this comment is true, He would be familiar with this signal. If it were a customary thing to do, then the apostles would be familiar with this, too. I don't believe that the cloth was left folded for no apparent reason. I don't believe it was mentioned in the Holy Bible just for good script-reading. There's a reason for everything with God. Nothing is coincidental with Him.

When I have dinner guests, I use lovely cloth napkins. After I clear away the dishes, I brush off the tablecloth, and reset the table for dessert. At each guest's setting, I always shake out his/her napkin, refold it, and place it neatly by the dessert plate. I am readying the table for my guests return. The savory part of the meal is complete...the sweet course is yet to come. It is what most guests look forward to, dessert. Interestingly, the word comes from the French language, desservir, "to clear the table" and "to serve" Could this be more appropriate? Our Lord came to serve and we are born to serve Him with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul and with all our strength. Is there anything more sweet than the thought of Christ's Return? Is there anything more sweet than the thought of eternal happiness in heaven...the sweet by-and-by?
Perhaps, the "folded napkin" email does nothing more than get us all thinking about His Coming. There's nothing wrong with dialogue between Christians and sometimes it takes a controversial, yet innocent email to get the dialogue started. Always seek the truth. And may the image of the folded napkin remind us that the Greatest, Most Honored Guest will return and He will invite His faithful to feast at the banquet table of the Father.
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

St. Rita, Patroness of Impossible Cases...Feast May 22nd

I would be ashamed of myself if I didn't acknowledge the Feast of St. Rita of Cascia, one of my most favorite and beloved women of our faith. Both Catholic Online & Catholic Encyclopedia (newadvent.org) had short biographies of St. Rita...but neither did her extraordinary life justice. But Wikipedia did!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_of_CasciaI was at the Cathedral of the Divine Mercy in Massachusetts browsing the book store when I found the DVD of her life starring beautiful Vittoria Belvedere. St. Rita DVD at Amazon.com What a fabulous story! It had all the excitement, action and romance of any epic movie.

St. Rita was born at Roccaporena near Spoleto, Umbria, Italy. She married at age 12 to Paolo Ferdinando. Her parents (Antonio Mancini and Amata Ferri) arranged her marriage, despite the fact that she repeatedly begged them to allow her to enter a convent. Ferdinando was a rich, quick-tempered, immoral man, who had many enemies in the region. St. Rita endured his insults, abuse and infidelities for years. Through humility, kindness and patience, Rita "converted her cruel husband from his wicked ways, making their home a peaceful sanctuary of holy bliss". (St. Rita of Cascia) They bore two sons, Giangiacomo(Giovanni)Antonio and Paulo Maria, who grew up God-loving children. Although Paolo Ferdinando became congenial, his allies betrayed him and he was violently stabbed to death.
As her sons advanced in years (one now 16), their character began to change. **(Biographers write that the sons were twins). The sons wished to exact revenge on their father's murderers. This unauthorized right of revenge in Italy at the time was called La Vendetta. Fearing that her sons would lose their souls, Rita tried to persuade them from retaliating, but to no avail. Instead, she prayed to God. Her sons died of natural causes (dysentery) a year later, well prepared to die and go before God.
After the deaths of her husband and sons, St. Rita desired to enter the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene at Cascia but was turned away. Although the convent acknowledged Rita's good character and piety, it was afraid of being associated with her due to the scandal of her husband's violent death. However, she persisted in her cause and was given a condition before the convent could accept her; the difficult task of reconciling her family with her husband's murderers. She was able to resolve the conflicts between the families and, at the age of 36, was allowed to enter the monastery.[1]
Her actual entrance into the monastery has been described as a miracle. During the night, when the doors to the monastery were locked and the sisters were asleep, St. Rita was miraculously transported into the convent by her patron saints Saint John the Baptist, Saint Augustine, and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino[citation needed]. When she was found inside the convent in the morning and the sisters learned of how she entered, they could not turn her away. She remained at the monastery, living the Augustinian Rule, until her death.
One day, while living at the convent Rita said, "Please let me suffer like you, Divine Saviour". Suddenly, a thorn from a figure of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ fell from the crown of thorns and left a deep wound in Rita's forehead. This wound never healed and caused her great suffering for the rest of her life.[citation needed] As a result, depictions of St. Rita show a forehead wound to represent this event.

The Story of the Rose & The Fig:

When St. Rita was bedridden in the convent, a cousin visited her and asked her if she desired anything from her old home. St. Rita responded by asking for a rose and a fig from the garden. It was January and her cousin did not expect to find anything due to the snowy weather. However, when her relative went to the house, a single blooming rose was found in the garden as well as a fully ripened and edible fig, and her cousin brought the rose and fig back to St. Rita at the convent.[citation needed] The rose bush is still alive and often in bloom today.[citation needed]
The rose is thought to represent God's love for Rita and Rita's ability to intercede on behalf of lost causes or impossible cases. Rita is often depicted holding roses or with roses nearby. On her feast day, May 22, churches and shrines of St. Rita provide roses to the congregation that are blessed by priests during Mass.

Look for the prayer to St. Rita on my blog. It's on the left sidebar. Please scroll down to find it.
St. Rita of Cascia pray for us!
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Impure Blasphemy Against Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Pray For Us!
I'm deeply pained to tell you that Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas, is impurely blasphemed at the Oakland Museum of California.

The museum is hosting an art exhibit that includes a digital portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe wearing a bikini, held aloft by a topless woman-angel! Our pure, sinless Heavenly Mother should be honored not mocked!And it will be on public display until May 29! May, the month of Mary!!

You and I cannot sit by idly and do nothing about this awful blasphemy! Even indecent pop artists gets more respect  than the Mother of God! Shame on those supporting this disgraceful exhibit.  We must do reparation and lift up our voices in peaceful and prayerful protest.

e-protest this blasphemy here

The silence and indifference of Catholics encourages the promoters of blasphemy to push their agenda. No other religious group would remain silent...they would scream from the rooftops!You and I must rise to this occasion and protest, with all our hearts. We must make our indignation heard!

We must show Jesus that we care, and that we love His Mother, the Patroness of the Americas, and that we will defend Her holy honor no matter how many times she is attacked and insulted.

And our prayerful protest and reparation is the only way of showing our gratitude.
On behalf of the Virgin of Guadalupe's honor, please join me in this peaceful and prayerful protest.

(adapted from an email sent by TFP student Action defending moral values on campus. Support this godly, brave group of students and don't let their hard work be for naught.)