Fr. Theodore Trinko, IVE
Memorial of St. Paul of the Cross
Preached at The National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Just like every Sunday of the year we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, every Friday has traditionally been seen as a day to commemorate the Passion of Our Lord. This is particularly highlighted in Lent when we all are required to fast from meat on Friday. Therefore, it is particularly appropriate that we are celebrating today St. Paul of the Cross since he, as his name should indicate, had a great devotion to the cross of Christ. But a devotion for the cross is not something which is ought to be reserved to any particular group of Christians or guys with special names, but rather ought to be something present in all of our lives.
We cannot call ourselves Christians unless we take up our crosses.
The cross has always been a symbol of our faith. To the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote that he was determined to speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (cf. 1 Cor 2:2). No Christ without the cross nor cross without Christ. St. Rose of Lima stated that there is no other ladder to heaven than the cross. Fulton Sheen taught that saints are formed in the shadows of the cross. As Christians we are all called to be holy, to be saints; but it’s a dogma proclaimed by the church in the catechism that there is no holiness without renunciation, “the way of perfection passes by the way of the cross.” Echoing the words of our Savior, who said that all His disciples had to take up their daily cross and follow Him (cf. Lk 9:23), the Second Vatican Council also taught that all Christians must be prepared to “follow Christ along the way of the cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.” To call ourselves Christians, teaches St. Paul, we must crucify our flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24).
Moreover, the cross serves as an example to us as to how we are to live our lives. St. Augustine said we should model our lives after the cross. In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas “Whosoever wishes to live with perfection should do nothing other than to despise what Christ despised [on the cross] and to desire what Christ desired [on the cross].
Perhaps the greatest reason for the importance of the cross in our lives, is based on that which it accomplished 2000 years ago. It was the price of our salvation. Before that fateful day on Calvary, heaven’s gates were closed and none entered into paradise. But now, through uniting ourselves to the cross, we are able to ascending into heaven. Think about this, the cross is always in an elevated position, we look up to it. By lifting up our heads we direct our attention to that heavenly realm to which we are called. But it is only possible to get there because the cross with its vertical beam has pierced the heavens and thus opened up a way for us to pass into our Father’s house.
Now, we have to ask, how do we unite ourselves to the cross? Fundamentally this takes place in baptism where we die with Christ by being submerged in the water only to rise with him upon emerging. That sacrament we receive only once, but on a daily basis we have the opportunity to unite ourselves to it in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
This is the most important part of the Mass, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Not that Jesus is sacrificed again, but rather that same sacrifice He made 2000 years ago on Calvary’s hill is made present anew on the altar of the Mass. It is the same sacrifice made present under sacramental forms in an un-bloody manner. The vertical beam of the cross is planted on the surface of the altar at the moment of the double consecration. We can see this sacrificial aspect in a few moments surrounding the consecration.
1) Have you ever wondered why the bread and the wine are consecrated separately? It’s to represent death. When a man’s blood is separated from his body, that man is dead. So too with the sacrifice of the Mass, at the consecration there is a real making present again of the death of Christ on the Cross. 2) After the consecration the priest sings “The mystery of Faith,” and everyone responds, “We proclaim your death O Lord.”
3) If we listen to certain Eucharist prayers attentively (all the part which takes place when we kneel down), we’ll hear the consecrated Body and Blood called a victim, a holocaust, an offering, and a sacrifice.
And we are all called to spiritually unite ourselves to this sacrifice. Place ourselves spiritually on the cross with Christ out of love for Him who put Himself on it for love of me. Or in the words of St. John de Brébeuf, whose feast we celebrated yesterday, “Jesus you died for me, I want to die for love of you.”
And so today, at the moment of consecration, let us recall that we are at Calvary, we are at the foot of the cross of Christ. What would we say to Jesus if we were there 2000 years ago? What would we feel? What would we do? We cannot travel back in time, but the cross will come to us now, so we can say, and feel, and do all that we would have had we been there. May the Blessed Virgin Mary obtain for us the grace to have those same dispositions she had when she was at the foot of the cross. Amen.
Fr. Nathaniel Dreyer, IVE
Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Today’s Gospel is a rather mysterious one: in fact, there are a number of mysteries that warrant some closer attention. First, there a number of references to Jewish thought and tradition that need clarification, and, second, we can consider the mysteries of Christ’s life and how they relate to us.
Fr. Nathaniel Dreyer, IVE
Wednesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel recounts the healing of a blind man; in fact, this miracle is only recounted in Mark’s Gospel. There’s a lot of interesting details for us to consider, but one things that strikes us is that this is the only miracle in the Gospels that takes place in stages; in other words, Christ lays His hands on the man, asks if he sees anything, and then lays his hands on him a second time. He doesn’t cure Him in an instant, but over time.
We’re also surprised by just how physical the healing is:
Fr. Nathaniel Dreyer, IVE
Thursday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel presents a brief summary of Christ’s ministry after He angered the Pharisees in yesterday’s Gospel. There are two things that call our attention: first, all the people who come to Jesus, and the second, what they find when they reach Him.
The Gospel tells us that “a large number,” or, more literally, “a great multitude” of people from Galilee and Judea were following Jesus, and that yet another “great multitude” came from all over to see Him: from “Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.” This might not seem like much, until we consider that the walk from Jerusalem to Capernaum is 100 miles, and that Idumaea is in the deep south, between the southern borders of Palestine and Arabia. Even more surprising is that the cities of Tyre and Sidon, which lie on the Mediterranean coast, northwest of Galilee, are in Phoenician territory; they’re foreign lands. Yet, all these people, Jew or foreigner, city dweller or country folk, simply heard what Jesus was doing, dropped whatever it was they were engaged in, and made the long journey to find Him and, with Him, the hope of healing. It speaks to the great faith of the people whose only connection with Jesus was hearing about Him, and, just on that hearsay, decided to go to Him. The irony is that the Pharisees, who are physically close to Jesus and His countrymen, refuse to draw near.
Secondly, when they reach Jesus, these people find, not only a whole bunch of other people, but that everything they had heard was true. This man was able to heal them, and restore them to life. Mark uses an odd word for “diseases.” He calls them μάστιγας (mástigas), which literally means “a scourge or lash with bits of metal in it.” When used for pain and suffering, it emphasizes how oppressive the pain is, how highly painful and debilitating. We can understand, then, the enthusiasm of the crowds as they draw near to Christ. They come to seek Him with their whole hearts, earnestly longing to find Him.
So, what can we take away from all this?
Priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word