This past Friday the 14th of September was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. While the center of our faith and our church is the Most Holy Eucharist the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Cross, specifically the Crucifix is the crossroads where Our Lord gave up His Earthly Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as redemption for our sins thereby converting the cross from an instrument of torture into a symbol of freedom for all who call themselves Catholic.
The teachings of Jesus are counter cultural. We do not understand why we must suffer during our lifetimes with health issues, financial matters, natural disasters and for many, being abused, homeless, hungry or alone. The answer is quite simple, our reward will be great in Heaven if only we pick up all the problems in life, throw them over our shoulder and carry them as Jesus carried His own Cross. The difference between our own cross and the Cross of Christ is that His Cross was made and is composed of ALL of our crosses, all our sufferings and all of our sins and so carrying it for Him who was sinless Himself and most pure, made His burden heavier and His task more daunting than we can ever imagine. The weight of our individual crosses can never come close to the weight of the Cross of Christ which encompasses all the crosses of the world, past, present and to come. And yet He offered Himself up to God the Father, with the full consent of His Mother, Our Blessed Mother, as a sacrifice so we might all share in the Kingdom of God. He died on the Cross so we might one day have infinite life with Him in Heaven. Who else would undergo such agonizing torture so you might go to Heaven? Who else loves you enough to die for you in this most harrowing way? Through the sacrifice of Jesus, the cross, an instrument of torture, becomes our symbol of freedom as it is the instrument leading us to eternal life, to eternal freedom.
Our Catholic Church is carrying a great cross created by its very own hierarchy, and as Catholics we carry the cross with her. We are mortified by the revelations made by the PA Attorney General and the comments from Cardinal Vigano. How is it the men to whom we look for guidance and interpretations of The Word are unable to apply the truth of The Word to themselves and their own behaviors? How are we to trust anyone, as it seems so many believe all our clergy, all of our church are either perpetrators or are complicit in these vile behaviors?
Simply stated our Catholic Church is made up of human beings who by our very nature are imperfect and filled with concupiscence. What we must remember as our pastor so eloquently noted this past Sunday morning at mass, is that 98 to 99% of our clergy are not guilty of any of these behaviors, and these very same most atrocious behaviors are more prevalent in other public and private institutions than they are in our church. Please don’t think I am saying this makes the mistakes made by our clergy understandable. Even one offense of this nature is too many. I truly believe as Catholics all of us, priests, bishops, religious and lay people are called to a higher standard we have failed to attain. In our failure to reach those higher standards many innocents have been irreparably harmed.
So where do we go as Catholics from here? We double down my friends. We unite our individual crosses to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We unite our crosses to this most malodorous cross being dragged through the mud by our church. We assist our church in hoisting it upon our shoulders and we carry it with and for our church, with and for our clergy and mostly with and for the victims as Jesus carries and carried our crosses for us. We carry it with love, with compassion and with resignation knowing God is Mercy and we are called to be the same. We double down in prayer, we attend weekday mass as well Sunday mass, we spend more time in Adoration, and we beg for healing for the victims of these horrendous crimes. We pray, we fast and we sacrifice for all the lives destroyed by these horrific failures, as well as for all those priests and bishops who have sinned so grievously. We pray as Father Dunn asked all of us this past Sunday, for the 98-99% of good, holy, faithful priests and bishops who are thought guilty because of the sins of others. The priests, bishops and clergy maligned even though they have done no wrong. The innocents who carry the burden of the sins of their brother priests and bishops as the innocent Jesus Christ carried the burden of all of our sins to His Crucifixion.
We are all far from perfect my friends, and we are not to judge the people involved here, we are only to judge the sins perpetrated by them. Our Lord is Mercy. Along with Our Lady He will provide solace for the victims. He will forgive all involved in these scandals should each and every one repent appropriately. The resulting thorough cleansing of His Most Holy Catholic Church may make us a much smaller church, but we will be a new church built upon a solid, stable, faithful foundation rooted in the Word of God and we will regain our strength and numbers as we are restored to fertile ground.
We are the Church of Christ, built upon the Rock of Peter and satan shall not prevail. We need to be strong my friends, we need to be the Army of Christ. We need to pray the Rosary through the intercession Our Mother Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, who wants nothing more than to bring each one of us to the Heart of Her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Persevere my friends, have faith my friends, be joy-filled knowing Good Friday is always followed by Easter Sunday, and your reward will be great in heaven. Let us soldier on, carry this cross for our church and pray we give some comfort to Our Lord God in Heaven who stands weeping for His beloved children and His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Please take an extra minute to read below a much more intellectual reflection from Sundays’ Magnificat on The Cross and take a few more minutes to listen to Bishop Robert Barron on the scandals. His words are right on target.
God Bless You Always,
Love and Prayers,
Take Up Our Cross
If we are going to stay close to the cross of Jesus with Mary, we must constantly increase our knowledge of the mystery of the cross to relive it….
The cross is, above all, what divides and separates. In fact, it separates what belongs to the spirit from what is of the flesh (see Gal 5:24), what belongs to faith from what is of the law (see Gal 5:11), the old self from the new one (see Rom 6:6), believers from nonbelievers, Christians from Jews and Greeks (see 1 Cor 1:18 ff.), and the Christian himself from the world….
The cross is what unites, what breaks down the walls of hostility, reconciles people among themselves and with God….
Thanks to the cross of Christ those who were far off have been brought near, the dividing wall has been broken down, all are united….
The cross is both these things together. It distinguishes in order to unite. It separates from the world to unite to God; it rescues from corruption and unites all those who accept being crucified with Christ. It overcomes all differences, revealing their relative and secondary nature before the new radical difference, which distinguishes the friends from the enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil 3:18)….
The cross separates and divides. This is true: it is the tool God uses to prune the shoots of the great vine of the Body of Christ so that they may bear fruit….
But above all the cross unites. It unites us one to the other. It makes us understanding and caring. Whoever suffers often becomes less egoistic and sees the needs of others; he is no longer impervious to compassion.
However, the cross unites us especially to God.
Father Raniero Cantalamessa, o.f.m. cap.