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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Scandalous Cross

I heard a speaker recently address the reality of the Cross, and the reality of Christ's love for us, individually, through His sacrifice. It wasn't new information for me (I've written of it here a few times), but it's always wonderful to hear it again, to take it in, and stare at the visual of Christ Crucified.

As the speaker pointed out, Jesus did not die for "humanity". "Humanity" is a concept; Our Lord did not sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane for some insubstantial concept; He suffered His Passion for each one of us, individually. When we look upon His sorrowful visage, His death upon the Cross, we should take time to consider that Jesus did this for each one of us as though we were the only one. ALL of that was Personally. Individually.

And that, he emphasized, is love. That is live-changing love. It's the love the Saints recognized, and through it, knew that they could hold nothing back in responding to such love.

Then he read the reproaches of Good Friday:

My people, What have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!
I led you out of Egypt; but you led your Savior to the Cross.
For forty years I led you safely through the desert,
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to the land of plenty; But you led your Savior to the Cross.
O, My people! What have I done to you that you should testify against me?

My Musings:

I left tonight, refreshed, loving Our Lord even more, reminded of His Sacrifice and our need. I left...convicted, but joyful in that conviction.

Yet, I continually run into people who say they are Catholic, but have no time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. They consider Mass to be "all about community" and if one happens to mention the sacrifice of Christ, and that He offered the First Mass as He hung, nailed to the wood and dying...they back away. They change the subject. They emphasize a warm and fuzzy communal meal devoid of any cost. They want to hold hands and sing "All Are Welcome".

Yes...all ARE welcome to climb upon the wood just as Jesus asked us to do...and unite our sufferings with His. He doesn't deny us....WE deny HIM.

We can't be good Catholics, and we certainly can't be Saints unless we recognize the sacrificial love of Christ. It is what defines us and what has inspired, for centuries, the deaths of countless martyrs. People don't die so brutally for some insubstantial idea of a "communal meal". They die for Truth, and for a Sacrifice that gave them Truth.

The Church certainly IS a community, however, it would not exist but for the suffering, death, and resurrection of Our Lord. We cannot come to "the table" without recognizing that we are truly receiving the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ HIMSELF, and to ignore His sacrifice is to deny Him completely. Such denial is even worse than the kiss of Judas or the searing flesh-ripping whips that laid bare Jesus' bones.

The Cross is so scandalous that many living among us are still denying it, even as they wear it as jewelry or hang it on their wall. They prefer to think of Jesus as "a really nice guy" who "loves everyone" and just wants to make sure everyone has enough bread to eat.

It's no wonder that there aren't more Vocations, that people just dump their kids at the door for weekly religious education classes, or take them to Catholic school but don't live their faith. It's no wonder that the Confession lines are short and the Communion lines are long.

No one is looking upon the Cross and seeing the love of God. If they refuse to see the suffering servant, they can't possibly be inspired to return, out of their own love, such a great gift back to God.

The countries where Christians are being persecuted to such a degree that it's costing them their blood....THEY understand the Cross. THEY are inspired to give their lives for the Faith, either through Vocations or literally shedding their blood. We, here in America, we don't suffer enough. We don't know what suffering is; it's far to scandalous to actually address.

We have to accept the Cross, and we have to LIVE it. We have to be able to look at the agonizing expression of Christ, and allow Him to truly share His love with us...and be changed forever.

It's only by entering into that folly that we will ever be able to understand the Glory of God.


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

If I do get this job as YM, I am bringing you to my parish :), EVERYONE needs to hear this :)

Mark said...

Excellent post!

Jesus didn't die to establish a community meal, or to inspire us to be warm and fuzzy towards each other, or (whatever the liberation theologians might say) as a martyr for the cause of international socialism.

He died in order to merit eternal life for each and every member of his mystical body; to make satisfaction and atonement for all our sins; to offer a sacrifice to the Father in expiation for our sins; to deliver us from the power of the devil; and to communicate his justifying, sanctifying and healing grace to us through the sacraments which are the instruments of his Passion (St Thomas, Summa Theologiae III, q. 48).

Anonymous said...

Amen, Amen!! I feel exactly like you do. The difference is that I do not have to see these non-Catholic Catholics every day. Everyone who works in a parish needs to have a spirit of steel. I pray for all of you daily. You see so many problems and live your faith in spite of it.

I cringe when people like Nancy Pelosi call themselves Catholic. THEY ARE NOT CATHOLIC, so don't call yourself one. How dare you!

I could go on and on, but i have to go make breakfast.

Thanks for a great post.

Adoro said...

Joe ~ Lol...I've never been to LA...or CA at all! How should I dress for my own crucifixion?

Mark ~ Amen, and thanks for quoting the Summa! :-) (Always nice to meet another Thomist...I'm a Thomist in training..) :-)

Potamiaena ~ Thank you for your prayers...we need it!

Mark said...

I guessed you might be a Thomist from your post on the hierarchical nature of creation!

The more I read Thomas, the more I appreciate what a miraculous theologian he is.

Adoro said...

Mark ~ LOL...that post was more inspired by our professor's lecture, which of course built on things we learned last semester in another course. It all comes together. (Our prof IS a Thomist, I believe!) :-)

And we're reading parts of the Summa for Christian Anthropology. Still can't find anything to answer the essay question on Primitive Man, though! And my notes on the lecture aren't so helpful to me. * sigh *

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

LOL, dress modestly with lots of body armour ;)