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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Preaching the Cross

I just finished watching Fr. Corapi speaking with Fr. Pacwa on EWTN, and he made a major point; we don't often enough hear about Christ Crucified. We aren't told about the Cross. In many parishes, the crucifix has been replaced with a "resurrection cross", showing Jesus resurrected, but only a sterile reminder of His suffering.

We shouldn't be so surprised, then, that people are trying to end suffering through euthanasia rather than embrace it and understand its redemptive power. If we don't learn about the Cross...we can't truly know Christ.

I grew up with images of our Crucified Lord all over the house; in the images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, in the crucifixes, in learning the Sorrowful Mysteries. At Mass, I used to look at my First Communion Mass book at the images of Jesus suffering, trying to understand...especially because there didn't seem to be a lot wrong with Him.

Over time, and especially in the last couple years, I've fallen in love with Jesus. Not because He's such a "nice guy", but because of His suffering. I don't love Jesus because He said some interesting things and inspired some people to change their ways and performed a few miracles. I love Jesus because He DIED for me. He suffered HORRIBLY...for me.

I can't tell you the moment it happened, but one day I looked at the Cross, at the suffering of Christ, and realized His sacrifice was REAL, it was PERSONAL, and it was done out of LOVE.

Once I knew what love REALLY was, I was changed forever.

It was the Cross that drew me to Him. It was His suffering, His redemptive suffering that made me approach.

"When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
~Jn 12:32

When Christ was first lifted from the earth, He was Crucified. The second time He was lifted, he was Resurrected, and the third time was his Ascension.

And every day, if we so desire or are able to go, we can see Christ lifted again, during the Sacrifice of the Mass...and we are drawn to Him even more closely, through Holy Communion.

We need to hear about the Cross, we need to understand the sacrifice of love that draws us to Him, and we need to understand His own invitation to unite our own sufferings with His, for that is where we will truly find Him. And in making an offering of our own trials...that is where we will learn to love others.

If we don't understand the message of the Cross, we can't possibly understand love.


Anonymous said...

I went to Adoration today at a chapel that has a corpus hanging directly behind and above the Monstrance. No cross, just the corpus that has been taken from one.

Tiny little chapel.

I've come to realize lately that the majority of my problems, most of my sufferings, are the result of my sinfulness. I planted seeds of sin over many years, and they've born the fruit of suffering.

Now for many people, their sufferings are not due to their sinful acts. They suffer from death of close ones, from disease, from traumas, and so forth.

But not me. Mine come because of the life I've led.

And yet, I resent the sufferings that they've brought. I try to embrace them, and slowly I'm learning to embrace and perhaps even see them as a sort of gift. But it is slow going in this kind of spiritual growing for me.

So there's Jesus today. Truly present in the Monstrance, and represented in the corpus above.

He did this freely, took on this suffering willingly, yet did nothing to deserve it.

Moreover, not only did He not deserve it, he is the Word that brought about all that is Good.

And there I was complaining about what I've brought onto myself and my family.


Adoro said...

I've thought about that, I suffer through the effects of my OWN sin, and He didn't deserve ANY of what He got...He took it for us. :-(

Anonymous said...

One of the things that caused me to leave my parents' protestant church was that church's inability to deal or help me deal with real suffering that can't easily be materially releived. Yes, they pray.

One of the most precious gifts of the Catholic faith (even if I don't understand or know how to practice it) is the teaching of redemptive suffering.
There is a way to use suffering and not just pray that life is continually pleasant and easy! This combined with an understanding that while some things are a direct result of the sinful choices of ourselves or others, other things are a result of the world in general being fallen.

Adoro said...

Anon ~ If you haven't try reading John Paul II's encyclical, "Salvici Doloris" and "Dives in miseriacordia", both can be found on both the Vatican and EWTN websites and printed out - just google the titles. It will help you A LOT, and is perfect lenten reading.

What you cite is also one of the reasons I haven't been a part of the charismatic prayer group for years...there's a sense of always wanting to escape suffering, rather than embrace it. If someone is suffering from the smallest thing... pray it away! And that bothered me, although at the time I didn't understand WHY. I do now, but of course, I think you already understand!

God bless!

Anonymous said...

Do you mind updating to my new blog?

Mike T said...


I do frequently hear that Christ loved us so much that He gave His life for us. This is very seldom followed up with an explanation of why love would manifest itself in such a way, and I think that is a pretty crucial piece.

Otherwise, we can easily stuck in a natural empathy for Jesus, an empathy that has some nobility in its own right, but stops far short of teaching us to recognize the EFFECTIVENESS of the Lord's suffering.

Santa loves me, because he puts presents under the tree for me. I feel sorry for Jesus, because He suffered terribly, but how does this compare to the presents brought by Santa?

Back when such things were taught, we learned that the Passion and Death of the Lord have redeemed us, because in this way, He has satisfied the demands of justice resulting from original sin.

In this day and age, we must take this explanation a step further. Why must the demands of justice be satisfied in such a cruel way? Accustomed, in varying degrees, to a life of convenience, the question is difficult for us. Unfortunately, instead of taking the explanation a step further, most catechesis takes one less step and ceases even to mention the demands of justice. And so we are left to rely on our empathy for the suffering Jesus, while the glorious Lord is the One Who rose from the dead. And where does "redemption" fit into all of that?

We need to teach (and be taught) the EFFECTIVENESS of the Passion and Death of the Lord. After all, why else would St. Paul talking about "proclaiming the Death of the Lord until he comes"?

Anonymous said...

I was so relieved, in becoming Catholic, to find Jesus back on the Cross. I appreciate what you've written.

Our parish is going to have a Healing the Family Tree Mass where the sins of the fathers (and mothers and uncles and so forth) will be broken, all bondage will be broken and everything from cancer to financial misfortune will be healed. It's on a Wednesday when the charismatic group has their meeting after the Mass. Our pastor is not the "presider" but it is happening in his church. I've emailed and asked about this. Specifically I have asked on what authority all this bondage will be being broken and where the Teaching of the Church supports such as this. I'm still waiting.

Suffering sucks. I am, frankly, damn tired of it both physical and financial. I and my family could really use a break and I do not mean another bandage. But I cannot abide this idea that all suffering can or should be swept away and that accountability can be attached to former generations ipso facto.


If my comment is not in keeping in what you'd like on your blog, just delete it.

Adoro said...

Jackie ~ You have a new blog AGAIN? I'll be happy to update!

Mike ~ You're absolutely right...and you know...YOU can write about that! ;-) We ALL need to, ESPECIALLY if it isn't being otherwise preached!

Owen ~ I'm totally with you...I find that "Family Tree" think in a lot, if not ALL charismatic circles and am extremely suspicious of it. I've read about it from different points of view, but it seems to dismiss the grace of Baptism, doesn't it? I can understand being healed from the effects of the sins of our parents, etc., but healing the family tree? I'm with you.

And as for suffering...yes, you've taken it repeatedly, you and your family, and as such, you've got something to say on the subject! For some reason, Jesus has asked you to suffer, and while I don't envy you in any way, I certainly do appreciate the salvific suffering you yourself are undergoing. Many prayers continuing to come your way!

Anonymous said...

I am still trying to understand suffering/redemptive suffering after having read much about it. It is not that easy of a concept to grasp, especially for one who has not suffered much in his life. I did hear an interesting quote this moring on Relevant Radio by C. S. Lewis which dealt with suffering vs sin in our lifetime and the hearafter. It gives these two concepts a different perspective.

"[Mortals] say of some temporal suffering, 'No future bliss can make up for it,' not knowing Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say 'Let me have but this and I'll take the consequences': little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death."

Anonymous said...

You are 100% right. We cannot understand love if we cannot understand sacrifice. We get so used to the pictures of Jesus dying on the cross that we don't really think about it anymore. But without the cross there couldn't have been a resurrection or ascension. Jesus' death on the cross has significant meaning and it wasn't by accident that He died on a cross. I tried to depict some of that in my book: 'The Bible: Behind the scenes'. There were specific reasons for the way Jesus died. Thanks again for your posting.

VPF Pvt MRS said...

I would like to recommend the book "Why the Cross?" by Edward Leen

He is one of my two favorite spiritual writers along with Blessed Columba Marmion.

May God Bless you.

Adoro said...

Vianney33 ~ It can be a difficult concept to understand. The paper I had to write for class a couple years ago helped me greatly, as well as some other well-timed events, advice in confession, etc, that the Lord used to aid in my own understanding. I think that if I didn't have to delve deeply into the issue for a class, I wouldn't have understood at all.

llze ~ Oh, there have been volumes written on this theology, and more and more, I've been reading the Church Fathers, who write about it so eloquently. The obedience of Christ overcame Adam's disobedience; Christ suffered all the whips and thorns that were prescribed for Israel, and only His blood could satisfy the debt of sin, to give life to we who merit only death. Understanding the meaning of blood in the Old Testament is of great assistance..seeing how it was used by the prophets, and now, the blood of Christ in the same's incredible! I LOVE the theology of the Cross!

Marmion ~ Thanks for the recommendations...will add them to my ever-growing list! (Maybe if I ever finish grad school I'll actually GET to that list!) lol