The Pain of Christ and the Sorrow of God!
Is the Crucifixion a thing of the past? It is all over? The pain of the world goes on, but Christ is in His glory? To think thus, is to misunderstand the Cross. Wherever sin abounds, so there too will suffering. The heart of the Cross of Christ is His gift of allowing us to share in the redemption, to bring good out of evil. When I sin now, I crucify God as surely as did the soldiers on the Hill of Golgotha. And, similarly, when I suffer now, God is as deeply involved in my suffering as He was in the sorrows of the city over which He wept. In the life of God, there are no time events; God has no history. Eternity is an endless NOW! It is a point, and what to us is past or future is the present moment of Eternity.
The Passion of Christ is an EVER-PRESENT reality of God’s divine involvement in the pain of His creatures. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not just a memorial of Calvary; not a repetition of Calvary, but the same essential Act. It is a self- offering of Christ, our Head, but, also, the offering of the “Totus Christus”, Christ together with all the members of His Body. We are meant to share in the Sacrifice. In so far as we offer fully, immolate fully, and love without reserve, we shall find full redemption. Evil produces its inescapable consequences; immolation with our Savior merits a joint victory with Christ the King:
THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS!
The history of mankind is a love-story. The climax of that story begins in the Garden of Gethsemane; because it is here that begin those events we call the Passion of Our Blessed Lord; it is here that begin the events which make possible for us, here and now, to find our way Home to God. We find in the Garden the pinnacle of all life’s lessons. Holiness is not a question of what we feel, it is the perfect embracing of the Will of God. We may fear our destiny, we may pray to be released from it, we may be heartbroken because of it, but, so long as we place ourselves in the position of a perfect instrument for God’s purposes, “Not my will but Thy Will be done!”, everything will work together unto our sanctification and that of all mankind. Every act in the Life of Christ was in conformity to the Will of the Father, every act was a Perfect Act of Charity. Our human actions do not depend upon their importance for value, but ultimately upon their conformity to the Will of God, for it is this which transforms them into LOVE.
When we reach out to a sick friend, perform our ordinary daily chores, face pain or sorrow, all these human acts may become a part of the Passion, a part of the long series of events which, in the end, will save the world. By our offering them as part of our acceptance and embracing of God’s Holy Will, they become the mightiest instrument in the salvation of souls. We do not need to do anything grandiose, but must heroically strive to do the little things in life for the love of God; then, each act in its turn is given a sacramental value. Omnia in manu Dei sunt, all things are in the Hands of God. We spoil everything because we cannot manage to will the Will of God. We spoil everything because we think we know better than He: Because we cannot leave the results in His Hands, we cannot leave it to Him to decide success or failure. Oh, in how many things we do our self-will!
Where troubles and hardships are concerned, we will do well to think of ours as little as possible and, then, only in comparison with His. When we are thinking much of ourselves, we will always find anxiety and fear and gloom and restlessness; but in doing His Will is our Peace. Say with Christ the prayer of Christ; NOT MY WILL BUT THINE and, from that sacramental act there will flow into your soul the strength of Christ. We have made gods of cleanliness and comfort, and turned our heads from those around us who are suffering. Seven dollars is given to the missions and seventy dollars spent on cosmetics and tobacco. Heavens! What an indictment! There is a mad dash to fortify oneself with degrees, physical prowess and technology of every kind. Still, the shadow of the Passion is creeping closely around us: wars, disease, perverse teachers, the persecuted, poor and helpless. Do we reach out to them with our time and our abundance? A charitable deed is doubly acceptable when we leave our duties toward God for the sake of a helpless neighbor. Or, do we say like the Publican … “Look at me Lord, I tithe and I keep the fast…I am not like the rest of men.” It is the quiet grind of petty crosses which fill our day that are more difficult to bear than one quick glorious martyrdom. And, yet, the one presupposes the other. A man must die to himself before he is allowed to die in vindication of the faith within him. It is through these little spiritual combats that the soul is developed and made capable of greater deeds of valor. Once we are made aware of the greatness of these small events as expressions of God’s Love for us, once we see and live their sacramental value, then we are elevated into a greater life; the winds of eternity blow about us and the infinite skies are our home and we, too, walk the eternal hills.
Every SIN is a Form of Betrayal;
Let us remember now the words Our Lord spoke to those who refused to give food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, refused to clothe the naked and give shelter to the homeless. Their failure to help their neighbors in this way was equated with a real betrayal of Himself. Are we too, perhaps righteous, very regular in fulfilling our own Church duties, but deaf to the cries of our suffering neighbor? It is always wrong for anyone to ignore their suffering brothers, but for us to do it, as Christians, is more than a betrayal: We betray even while we pretend to love and serve; we betray the Son of Man with the kiss of Judas. Why were the disciples so weak? Because they were not prepared! They had never thought it would be like this at all; they were expecting a very different kind of kingdom. Let us not be found to be so unprepared. The one thing that matters in the end is that we have been faithful to Him. We must awaken to this our challenge: live it, breath it, eat it, chain our bodies and hearts to it day and night…May THY WILL BE DONE, ALWAYS AND FOREVER IN ALL THINGS!
The Road to Calvary is at the same time The Road to Paradise!
There is no word spoken between Christ and His Mother on the road to Calvary, but quiet stillness amidst the frenzied activities of His enemies. Mary follows to the end, and again she is silent, she does nothing: She stands motionless, and erect at the foot of the Cross giving Christ her support. This is something – SOMETHING ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL – that we must learn from her. She is there, she is with Him, but, not to work, not to be active, simply to love and suffer and be still. There is nothing Mary can do or say, but they have no need of words, her Son and she, it is love that heals. When you suffer, think deeply and love deeply. your sympathy and co-suffering will go straight to the Heart of Christ, indeed, it is already there, as He trod the way of the Cross so many centuries ago. You are His comfort as the silent suffering of Mary was His comfort.
Draw near! Be not afraid! What is stopping you? Two thousand years? Time does not exist for Him. He will be here on the Cross ALWAYS, until the end of time, waiting for men to come to Him. Must He wait FOREVER? Comfort Him NOW!
You look at Him and He looks at you. There is no barrier of years between you; His THEN is your NOW. They are the same moment. The crucifix is the cause of our joy, the symbol of His power, the memorial of His Love. It is the hope and the love and the pride and the safety of your children. Look tenderly upon the Cross!
United with Mary at the Foot of the Cross, be silent, love and generously offer yourself an eager victim to His Divine Will. You will be at the center of His work in the salvation of the world. You will be a life-bearer. The frenzy of the activity of the mob, the priests and the soldiers brought death. In our modern world, the breathless speed of life and endless activity, the ceaseless change and movement more often than not form a sense of hopelessness that kills all initiative. It causes a type of paralysis of the spirit and of the will. If you seek to remedy the situation by economic or political means without first seeking to heal the evil which is at its roots, you are beating the air: You may provide a brief sedative, an anesthetic, but the dry bones will not return to life. To our dying world, Christ will come, all so still: He will come if, but only if, our world can learn sufficiently to be still, silent and adoring.
Will you be able to stand fast in the Faith if confronted by the miseries and horrors of a concentration camp? If you have prepared yourself by daily turning over all your actions, contradictions, crosses and prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, you will most likely be unshaken. Placing your every agony in the Heart of God and knowing it will be safe there, whatever might happen, you will have God’s Peace. Living in this way, no matter the darkness in the world, day by day offering all your actions to God, embracing always HIS Will and courageously keeping your silent watch with the Sorrowful Heart of Mary, you will have turned your whole life into the stuff of love and sacrifice which is transformed by Christ into eternal salvation.
Suffering makes us humble and humility is the seed of truth. On no other highway will we hear His footfalls pass. Our dear Lord appoints angels to watch over us as we sleep, but He, Himself, watches by our bed of pain and sleeplessness. Borne out of love and with trust, the horror of Calvary will become for us a Garden of joy.
Love and Sacrifice are Synonymous!
If you love much, you will give your all and, in return, all that is Christ’s will be yours for all Eternity. Have courage, my brothers and sisters, a little while longer and then Eternity!
MARY, THOU ART
If I find the cloud of sadness rise within my heart,
Like a star on life’s dark ocean, shining o’re the wave,
Cast thy gentle bonds around me and my heart enchain