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Monday, March 29, 2010

Embrace the Passion of Christ

This Lent has been a hard one for the Church as a whole, but it has hit Europe especially. They are facing the purging now that began in America in 2002, but it seems the media and the world in general has become even more vicious and visceral in their reactions. A light is being shown on the sins of the Church, and even as we all collectively shudder, we, the disfigured Bride of Christ, must recognize that even the innocent must be scourged along with the guilty.

We live in a world today that hates us as Christians, but most especially as Catholics. It is launching a vile and backhanded assault against "the Vatican" and against our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. In so doing, they are assaulting us all for we as Catholics are in solidarity with all who suffer injustice.  In our innocence, we partake in the sufferings of those who were abused. In our own guilt, we partake in the divine justice that is owed to the men (and women) in the Church who have abused others.  In the mystical reality of our identity as the Bride of Christ, the Mystical Body with Christ as our head, we must enter into and suffer His own Passion. We are one with Christ, and cannot be separated from Him.

I have heard and seen others, in America and abroad, who have expressed that they are "shaken" by these revelations of sin and debauchery in Ireland and Germany (especially given what has happened here). Sadly, I am not shaken at all. I am saddened. I am angry. I am beyond emotion. But I am not shocked, and I am not shaken.

We have to recall that God does not reveal sin without revealing His mercy. In this season of Lent, as we enter Holy week, it is fitting that the Church as a whole suffer to her very soul for the sins committed in her name, and perhaps with her seeming acquiescence.  It is fitting that such horrifying sin has been revealed, for now it can be purged. We enter Holy Week in humiliation, even we who are innocent. We hear once again the banshee cries directed toward all priests, most especially our Holy Father, screaming, "CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!"  We shudder deep within ourselves, perhaps wanting to look away, but knowing we cannot.

We look into the eyes of the guilty and innocent alike and find ourselves reflected there, part and parcel of both the bad and the good of our human nature.

We walk the road to Calvary with our Savior, knowing why He became Incarnate and went to the Cross to save us from our sins. We offer ourselves in union with Him, to be ridiculed, to be scourged, and ultimately, to be crucified.  Unless we accompany Christ along the via dolorosa, we cannot rise with Him in the Resurrection, knowing the full revelation of His Mercy.

Mk 4:35-40 35 On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, "Let us cross to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him.37 A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. 38 Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" 39 He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!"  The wind ceased and there was great calm. 40 Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?"

This parable has relevance to our time. If you recall from scriptures, Jesus was always getting into a boat with the disciples and going somewhere, so we recognize this image as a reflection of the Church buffeted about in the world.

We are now those disciples in the boat with Christ as the "violent squall" of an insanely violent media attacks relentlessly, as money-grubbing attorneys with no interest in anyone's soul, much less his own, seeks to bring down the Annointed of Christ himself, seeking hard to find guilt where there is only innocence. In response, we, the faithful, are filling the chapels and churches, we are praying in our homes and in all places, at all times. If we are "shaken" it means that we think Jesus is sleeping and cannot hear our cries. For some, the scandals may well rattle their faith, yet they are in good company, for did not the Apostles (but for John) flee also when confronted by the violence and accusations of the crowd? 

Sounds a lot like the Passion of Our Lord, doesn't it?

We should not be shaken in these times. We should recognize that Christ does not sleep among us, but has sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Church through every storm of every century, and will not fail us now. Christ himself has not abandoned us; He is with us and calls US to be even more united with Him in His suffering for the salvation of sinners. We must pray, we must do penance, and we must, in absolute faith, embrace the Passion of Christ and in so doing, come to understand the full revelation of His saving power through the exercise of Divine Justice, Divine Mercy, and Divine Love in the folly and the glory of the Cross.

In the Office of Readings last Saturday we read an exhortation from St. Gregory Nazianzen:   "We must sacrifice ourselves to God, each day and in everything we do, accepting all that happens to us for the sake of the Word, imitating his passion by our sufferings, and honoring his blood by shedding our own. We must be ready to be crucified."

Today, the antiphon of Morning Prayer reminds us:  "Jesus said: my heart is nearly broken with sorrow; stay here and keep watch with me." 

The Office of Readings today is from Hebrews 10:39 exhorting us: "We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and live."

Today, Monday of Holy Week, we are called to courage, called to "set our faces like flint" and remember that we, too, must be crucified with Christ. We are waiting and we are watching. We are called to have faith....and live.


Mandrivnyk said...

Amen. I've always been deeply.. fond, if that's the right word, of the Byzantine tradition of giving the Sacrament of Extreme Unction to all of the faithful (because, in the East, it is not limited to the physically sick) during Holy Week, and most significantly at the Service of the Bridegroom on Holy Wednesday.

We are healed and strengthened because we are sick. We're dying, all of us preparing to be crucified and buried with Christ, in a very real way, this week - just as we prepare to rise again at Easter. It's not meant to be easy.

Denise Fath said...

Well said. And it definitely seems that the attacks against Pope Benedict have been intensifying in anticipation of Holy Week. It seems more courage than usual will be required for Holy Week this year!

Adoro said...

Mandrivnyk ~ Cool tradition, didn't know that!

Denise ~'s typical. Every year it's SOMETHING. This year they're going after God's annointed. And therefore....all of us. But it's not really new, sadly enough.

Anonymous said...

Excellent and uplifting, thank-you.

Fr. Joseph

Melody K said...

Very well said.
And you're right that it's always something. Many times it has been an inappropriate movie or miniseries that just happens to make its debut during Holy Week (you're probably too young to remember Thorn Birds). Then there was the ossuary a few years ago that was supposedly of St. James, and even had inscribed on it "brother of Jesus" (whatever that proved). Just happened to surface during Holy Week. But this latest business is by far the ugliest, in recent memory anyway.
I like your thought that Christ does not sleep among us. I also think of Psalm 46, "God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress."

Adoro said...

Melody ~ I think last year it was the stunning revelation that was supposed to shake the Christian faith...Jesus was... *gasp*!.... JEWISH! Oh, the horror!

*rolling eyes*

I do remember the Thorn Birds, hearing about it, don't remember much else. I think my Mom had teh book on a book shelf, don't know if she ever read it. I know I picked it up now and again but just reading the jacket cover I yawned and walked away.

You know...I did read a book called "The Jesuit" and I think it was a sort of spy novel, but now I can't find anything about it. I don't think I have it anymore. IT was my Mom's and I think I "inherited" it with a bunch of other books she was getting rid of, but I suspect I tossed it years ago. By any chance you ever heard of it?

Melody K said...

I've heard of "The Jesuit", but haven't read it. I think it took place in Russia in the 1930's.
I actually thought Thorn Birds was well-written, too bad it was about a priest breaking his vows.

Adoro said...

Melody ~ I found info on "The Jesuit"...yes Russia 1930's. Not sure if it was a good book or not but I am curious to re-read it now that I'm both MUCH older and will prob. understand it! lol...and having read Fr. Ciszek's books, well...I"m quite curious. But won't happen for at least a couple months.

X said...

Your post made me cry. Thank you for reminding us that Jesus is in charge. Jesus, I trust in You.

Maria said...

Great post, Adoro. I love what Terry says at Abbey Roads: everywhere we meet the Cross. Do we think it should be absent from within the Church. Simple things to remember:

"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".

"Be strong in your Faith".

Remember,"where sin abounded,grace abounded MORE".

"I am with you always, until the end of time".

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Superb post.

Cousin Vinnie said...

I'd like you to take a look at this great orthodox and traditional Irish Catholic blog. They've just posted about a retreat to a Cistercian monastery. looks like something you could tell your readers about and maybe link to or blogroll...

In Christo,

Vin L