Sacred Heart of Jesus Have mercy On Us

Sacred Heart of Jesus Have mercy On Us

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Cyclothymic tension between Heaven and Hell

Brothers and sisters, I had no real interest in commenting on the recent school shootings at Virginia Tech because in certain respects culture has anesthetized my senses to the legitimate horror of the situation. I clearly remember the Columbine killings years ago so the latest massacre seems a revisitation of the same similar condition reflecting the 'culture of death' on the American home front. The slaughter of innocents will never represent sanity to a morally concerned culture but it seems to be almost politically correct in contemporary times to take a stance of horror and shock when a meaningless tragedy such as the one transpired at Virginia Tech occurs, yet friends I fail to understand why we suffer grief and sadness and bemoan how sad we are over the loss. Truthfully, I am fully prepared for the grand announcement to be broadcast via all media around the nation that the poor, mentally disturbed perpetrator was depressed, bipolar, or schizophrenic. Hmmmmm, how convenient. I can envision the psychological profilers attempting once again to navigate the feeble faculties of human reason employing a finite intellect, utilizing quantifying measures of cause and effect, to form an expository conclusion as to why this individual is merely a murderer.
The killer Cho Seung -Hui unfortunately made a fatal decision and misused his God given free will to put a bloody end to the lives of his innocent victims, and typically the culture at large will have no alleviation to their personal experience with grief over the national tragedy until the 'experts' speak as to his state of mind. Once we are delivered the typical explanation and thus excuse, and my wager is on a bipolar diagnosis, we can all resume our busy but self-serving lives and call it a day and go to the shopping mall to engage in an unhealthy dose of American consumerism, for our flagrant materialism serves our country's citizens readily for then we could put these local happenings out of our minds until the next disaster of human sacrifice surfaces, for it will continue to trend because we simply do not learn.
Remember Andrea Yates? A woman afflicted with some variable schizo-affective disorder, suffering elements of post-partum blues, elects to willfully and deliberately yet methodically drown all five of her young children all in the name of mental illness. I remember watching Andrea in televised proceedings and interviews and she remarked that Satan told her to kill her children in order to save them from hell. Hello! Satan told her to kill her children! Now that is truly the only explanation that suffices to makes sense to an inquiring mind for he was a murderer from the beginning, however modern psychiatric medicine has banished the existential reality of demonic influence from the considerations of most and unfortunately to our own spiritual detriment, many members of the church community follow the trend of the experts in denying the existence of the devil time and time again.
For all of you Charlotte Catholics and denizens let us examine the issue on a local, more personal level. Remember David Crespi from St. Matthew Catholic Church? If you have forgotten already or were never informed, last year he stabbed his five year old twins Samantha and Tessara, and of course he was mentally ill at the time of their murder. David Crespi was a financially prosperous individual with a high powered, lucrative corporate job at Wachovia Bank.
Apparently he had been suffering depression for years but on that fatal day, costing his daughters their lives, his mental state got the best of him and he surrendered to the temptation to kill. Even recently he wrote an article to a columnist at the Charlotte Observer and the discerning intellect would be able to detect the tone of anger in his written words, but the gist of what he had to communicate was basically that all levels of society needed to 'get their heads out of the sand of denial regarding mental illness.' Excuse me?
The world is not fashioned and exists not to serve our self-interest or demands for we were created to serve the world as exemplified in the life of Christ and underscored in the simple prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, so I am not interested in what he insists upon to justify killing his twins. Oh poor David he was depressed and logically in the aftermath of the killings he is now conveniently diagnosed as bipolar. I am empathetic for the suffering of his lovely and faithful wife and the surviving family members, but he had a choice that day and unfortunately he made the wrong decision. FYI David, many individuals are mentally afflicted and tormented, even severely depressed, but they do not massacre their children in a bloodbath of misused free will. Interestingly enough in David Crespi's own words, he made a similar reference mirroring Andrea Yates insight about taking the lives of some of his family in order for them to merit Heaven and avoid hell, and I cannot help but once again consider what was influencing this man's mind at the time because the chemical snafu excuse is getting increasingly threadbare and worn. Furthermore, no guarantee exists that any combination of therapeutic medicine and respective treatment would have in fact prevented these deadly events.
The bottom line is we want a reasonable explanation for the agent of human evil directing the actions of those individuals who commit such horrific acts by their own God given two hands, and we only seek those answers which readily appeal to our fallen nature of sin and assuage our psychological and natural understanding because the spiritual evidence and consequent solution is foreign and unpalatable to most. We want to indulge licentiously and continuously in sin but we do not want to contend with the ramifications of the misuse of free will. The excuses proliferate in the aftermath of random but regular acts of human violence, whether it be the lack of medication fueled the fury or the side effects of the medication impelled the rage, either way the mystery of evil and sin litter the landscape of humanity but we dare not look because than we are forced to look at ourselves.
Interestingly in light of the 911 debacle and the ongoing warfare with the Islamic groups, they offer no excuse of psychiatric illness as an explanation for their incessant militant actions. Certain Muslims are very outspoken about the imperative to engage in holy war all in the name of serving Allah. Ironically it appears to be more honorable of an explanation because at least it is honest despite being gravely wrong. I am convinced that psychiatric illness has and continues to replace the genuine culpability of sins. Symptomatically mental disturbances do indeed exist and diagnoses are formed based upon behavioral and temperamental manifestations solely, but in terms of scientific accuracy and conclusivity there in fact is no known cause or clear origin as to why these conditions exist. Read the disclaimers on psychotropic drug prescriptions, for example, we don't know what in fact cause depression but we think it may be the result of a chemical imbalance. Even the medical profession is not convinced nor claiming such themselves and continues its research and practices based upon theory alone, so then why are we always deferring to science to explain away sinful acts and malevolent behavior?
Furthermore, we must consider and evaluate the fact that the psychotropic drug industry, and I say industry because it is a profitable and increasingly viable economical pursuit, acts as a corporate machine generating billions of dollars annually to the benefit of pharmaceutical companies but ultimately at the expense and ongoing necessity of human suffering. Doctors need patients and drug companies need doctors, so without a continuous influx of the lowest common denominator, the suffering patient, no profits will be obtained. Corporate prosperity in this particular industry is vitally dependent upon the variable of people being ill, remaining ill and on an ongoing basis. The victims of true mental affliction exist as the innocent commodity.
I remember years ago when I was enrolled in religious studies at UNC Charlotte, an obvious secular institute, in one of my classroom experiences the discussion travelled and examined the cultural historicity of Jesus. During one class the professor, and without mentioning his name for this academician is a genius, a nationally known author, and the current department head, he made a remark about historians currently researching the psychology of Jesus. My interest piqued and I was dumbfounded in responding, "really?" He mentioned that the floating and speculative theory being entertained was that Jesus was bipolar. Yes my friends that is where the current trends and pursuits of the greatest scholarly minds in the United States are leaning toward, the bipolarity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Dismiss it as irrelevant to your personal beliefs and as silly nonsense characterized by the secular psychological and social scientists, but unfortunately this maligned method of thinking and proposal of truth is what has infected our intellects and continues to metastasize in the consciences of mainstream American society, including the Christian community.
Furthermore, one of the leading experts on the bipolar disorder in the U. S. is Kaye Redfield Jamison who has authored many books on this mysterious 'illness' and is even conditioned with it herself. More recently Dr. Jamison has co-authored a massive text accompanied by Frederick K. Goodwin, M.D. coined Manic-Depressive illness, and although I cannot at this time cite the exact page number, a statement is made in reference to the greatest Roman Catholic Saints in the history of the Church. To paraphrase the book's reference, "St. John of the Cross, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Therese of Lisieux were all merely undiagnosed bipolars who probably hallucinated their religious and mystical experiences." Human thinking has been deeply entrenched with and thus misguided by the idol of psychiatric science and erected it as a false God upon the altar of Divine Truth. Consider what I am speaking of in all seriousness, St. Therese of Lisieux, favorite canonized Saint of Holy Mother Church, one of the only three female doctors of the church alongside St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Sienna, hallucinated her holiness, imagined the sanctity Our dear Lord endowed her with, deluded by hysterical graces she penned 'The Story of A Soul'? You have got to be kidding me!
In one of Father John Corapi's teachings and I do believe it is the lesson on humility, he indicates that we can only straddle and sit on the fence for so long, and that one day God will come along and shake that fence and we will fall one way or the other, but where do we ultimately want to land. Do we want to be in the enemy's camp and on the side of the lie, for our adversary is the Father of lies and was a liar from the beginning according to Our Lord, or do we want to be on the side of the Truth as defined by Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and Magisterial Authority, enfolded within the immaculate garment of Holy Mother Church? We must be yanked by the neck out of hiding our weak minds in the proverbial sand of insane thinking and theories that blanket our world today. Furthermore, look at the fruit of all of the highly degreed scientific genius and its substance of hypotheses on the human condition. It is slowly but severely stripping the collective conscience of mankind of the culpability and reality of sin.
Abort the infant, contracept versus concept and bar the inception of life at its earliest moment, euthanize the elderly and mentally indigent, choose the right to die via physician-assisted suicide, destroy viable embryos all in the name of stem cell research, clone human cells with animals, all of the aforementioned engineered and accomplished my medical doctors in the name of science. A doctor is requisite in order to impale and thus collapse the brain of an infant in utero, before a diabolical vacuum sucks the remnants of humanity from the mother's womb. A doctor was present and requisite to yank the feeding tube from the life of Terry Schiavo. Even taking many of the psychiatric drugs require the concurrent use of birth control because the drugs are harmful to an unborn child. Wake up America and look at what the medical community has to offer us so much of the time?
From the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church:
"407 The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man's situation and activity in the world. By our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free. Original sin entails "captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of death, that is, the devil".298 Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action299 and morals."
If you do not yet know who is behind this smoking inferno of what is known as the culture of death than I pray for you before it is to late to figure it out. Abortion, contraception, fornication and adultery, divorce, homosexuality, bestiality, child prostitution and trafficking, pornography, satanism, occultism, new age divination, materialism and consumerism, corporate greed, drunkenness, drug use, prescription pill addiction, murder, and a global pride of arrogance that says I get to decide who is God. I get to decide what is right and wrong. What I believe and consequently how I act is for me to decide. Me, myself , and I. Memory escapes me a the moment, but who was it that said he would exalt his throne above that of the Most High?

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary:
1: having or marked by two mutually repellent forces or diametrically opposed natures or views.

In the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians:
"For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers in this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens."
-Ephesians 6:12

I would say that is it reasonable and safe to assume that God and Satan possess 'diametrically opposed natures or views.' The dynamics of the supernatural warfare that wages unceasingly over the battle of souls, created by and so deeply loved by God but clearly detested and hated by Satan, by its activity alone is inherently bipolar. Batteries are bipolar, plus and minus. Light switches are bipolar, on and off. The pinnacles of the opposite hemispheres of the earth are bipolar, north and south. Mysticism is notoriously and characteristically bipolar, high and low, ecstatic highs and dark night of the soul lows. Weather is bipolar, warm days of sunshine and stillness of atmosphere, and cold nights of treacherous, howling winds and torrential rains. Considering all of these elements of creation one could conclude that God' nature is terribly bipolar. Jesus' paradoxical use of parable is inherently bipolar.
Eve made a bipolar choice in the garden of Eden when she ate of the forbidden fruit, from the tree of bipolar Knowledge of Good and Evil, and so the fall of man from his prior innocence and intimate walk with God in paradise came to be.

"I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring
and hers;
He will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel."

-Genesis 3:15

A simplified but accurate definition of enmity is positive hatred. Positive hatred is a bipolar term, for positive implies something uplifting and good whereas hatred indicates something negative and bad. In summary, I guess bipolarity established itself in the garden and at the end of times, Our Blessed Mother will commit the finishing bipolar act of crushing the damned serpent's proud head once and for all, the wicked contamination of humanity authoring death, will be defeated by the unadulterated purity of the one who was immaculately conceived. Hail Mary full of Grace.
Please pray for all of the souls of the families I have discussed in this article, for God has mercy on the souls of those who do commit grave acts of mortal sin which includes ourselves at times. Saint Faustina was given the revelation of Divine Mercy by Jesus Christ to prepare the world for His second coming, and the hour of mercy is truly at hand and upon us now. Seek the available graces and never tire of petitioning Him, Our Blessed Mother, and the angels and saints in Heaven. The Adorable Face of our Risen Lord shines down on us with a heart brimming over with mercy, but when He does return it will only be as the just Judge, so make the most of the moment and continue to grow in Him by answering the universal call to holiness. Make the cyclothymic choice today.


Maria said...
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Amy said...
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Maria said...
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Anonymous said...

Amy, your piece is direct and poignant. Man will ever find ways to deny, rationalize, or excuse sin.

Can we draw a distinction between the objective evil of a given act and its subjective sinfulness, of which there are degrees?

Mental illness, immaturity, etc. do not make an act less evil, but it may cause someone to do an evil act without full knowledge and consent of the will, making it only a venial sin, if sinful at all. That does not mean there is no such thing as guilt, or that everyone with mental illness is incapable of mortal sin, or even that most sins are venial. It just means it's possible and we don't know. As you have pointed out, our society abuses the principle.

God alone sees all and knows the whole truth in a given situation. Our job is to love the sinner and hate the sin. Loving the sinner does not mean denying the sin, but it does mean being slow to judge another's motives--especially since only God knows them fully. This is very hard to do, especially when we are the ones hurt by the sin.

I agree with you, though, that our society is imbued with the culture of death, and that this is the work of the devil. As you have suggested, we must pray for light and victory through the holy cross.

-Todd (WA)

Amy said...

Appreciate your thoughtful response. I agree with your input regarding what determines culpability, and in the end only God knows the heart of the sinner. Yes we are to love, to pray, and to practice forgiveness and true charity of heart. The fruit of lovelessness and lack of Him surrounds our daily lives, yet He promised the darkness would not over come the light. However, one must realize the room is pitch black if they are ever to hit the light switch of grace and thus invite and foster Divine Illumination.

Have you been baptized with the mystical fire?

Have you been baptized with the mystical fire?
Mary untie our knots.

Jesus I Trust In You

Jesus I Trust In You

Suffering and the Cross part 1

Suffering & Cross What can we learn from suffering? Sometimes we get stuck asking the question “Why do we suffer?” instead of asking “What can we learn through suffering?” When we ask this question, we realize that God allows the things he hates (e.g., sin and suffering) so that the things he loves (e.g., virtues, compassion, love, and new life) may grow. Sometimes suffering is necessary to achieve some good. In the Gospel of John (16:21), Jesus speaks of the suffering of a woman in labor. Although her pain is great, her joy is complete with the birth of her child. Sometimes when we are in the midst of suffering, it is difficult to see the good that can come out of it. However, whether it is the birth of a child or the development of a virtue, good often does follow from suffering. Suffering helps bring us closer to others. Through our own sufferings and heartaches, we come to understand the pain of others. Just as Jesus shared in our sufferings, we too are called to share in the sufferings of others. Suffering helps us to be better Christians and more Christ-like. In many respects, suffering is a gift, as it can teach us to be better Christians by teaching us about patience, humility, and compassion. Think about Job in the Old Testament. Job was a wealthy and revered man who was blessed with good health and a large family. And, in the eyes of the Lord, Job was good and righteous. However, Satan stripped Job of his earthly possessions, his family, and his health. Although Job endured great suffering, he remained steadfast in his faith in God. Moreover, his great suffering helped to purify and strengthen his love for God. Recall too the lives of the saints and martyrs. In Philippians 1:12-13, we read that St. Paul was not concerned with his own suffering; rather, he was pleased that his “imprisonment in Christ’s cause worked out to the furtherance of the gospel.” Likewise, St. Stephen and thousands of other martyrs not only grew closer to God in their suffering, but they chose a life (and death) of great suffering for their love of Christ. In their suffering, they remembered the Lord’s promise that “Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:10-12). And, most importantly, recall the passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As St. Francis de Sales reminds us, “Look intently and frequently on Christ Jesus, crucified, naked, blasphemed, slandered, forsaken and overwhelmed by every kind of weariness, sorrow and labor. Remember that your sufferings are not comparable to his in quality and quantity, and that you can never suffer for his sake anything equal to what he has suffered FOR YOU.” How amazing is God’s love for us! Our powerful, all good, and everlasting Lord – the Creator of the entire world – humbled Himself to take on the form of a man, and not just any man, but a slave. And, He obediently accepted death – death on a cross – because of His infinite love for us (Philippians 2:7-8). Suffering reminds us to look ahead to our eternal life with God. Sometimes, suffering forces us to take a time-out from this life. When we suffer, we are forced to ask the hard questions in life. We are forced to examine the meaning of life, and the meaning of death. And, we are forced to consider that this world makes no sense at all unless there exists some greater plan for us. Through it all, suffering inspires us to look ahead to the possibilities of eternal life – a life of truth, beauty, justice, and love – with God. The Lord reminds us to “Have no fear of the sufferings to come . . . remain faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10).Through our own sufferings, then, we are called to remember the sufferings of other Christians and of Christ Himself. Through our sufferings, we are called to be faithful to God, and to turn to Him for comfort. And, we are reminded that true peace and happiness can NEVER be found in this world; rather, as Christians, we must set our sights on the next world – and our eternal life with God. How are we to endure suffering? In modern society, we are taught that happiness is the ultimate goal. And, moreover, happiness is equated with immediate gratification, pleasures of the body and the palate, and possession of the “conveniences” created by modern technology. In this conception of happiness, suffering doesn’t seem to have a place. Yet, as Christians, we know that we are called to a life of holiness, and that the path to holiness often involves suffering. We believe that Christ saved us by His suffering, and that “we must work out our salvation in the same manner, through suffering and afflictions, enduring the injuries, denials and discomforts we meet with all possible meekness” (St. Francis de Sales). For Christians, then, suffering does have its place. If we are to be holy, we must endure our trials in accord with God’s will. When an evil happens to us, we must do all we can to remedy the situation. If we are at fault, we must humbly admit our transgression. And, if the evil is caused by another, we must bless that person and “never repay injury with injury” (Rom. 12:14, 17). We must be patient in our suffering – we must not complain or seek pity from others. We must consider the suffering of other Christians before us – and of Christ Himself. We must offer up our suffering to Christ. We must remember that our time on this earth is short and our trials shall quickly pass. Above all, we must pray. The great mystic Thomas à Kempis said that we should always let Christ’s promises strengthen and console us. Receiving Him will be a reward beyond all measure. Thomas à Kempis “speaks” for Christ as follows: “You will not labor here for long, nor will you always be burdened with sorrows. . . . The hour will come when blood, sweat and tears will be no more. All that passes away with time is of little importance, and it passes away quickly. Whatever you do, do it well . . . bear adversity with courage. Eternal life is worth all these battles – and more ... Oh, if only you could see the everlasting crowns of the saints in heaven and how much glory they now enjoy – those same saints who, when they were alive, were held in utter contempt by the world and were thought unworthy of even drawing breath . . . Are not all painful labors to be endured for eternal life. It is no small thing to lose or gain the kingdom of God! So, lift your face to heaven. Look at me and all my saints with me, they who in this world have had great contention. They are now joyful, they are now consoled, they are now safe, they are now at rest, and they will forever remain with me in my Father’s kingdom.” What is meant by redemptive suffering? Pope John Paul II wrote: “In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his sufferings, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ” (Salvifici Doloris). St. Paul likewise realized that his sufferings had redemptive power: “I find joy in the sufferings I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church” (Colo. 1:24). Some people are concerned that St. Paul’s words imply that Christ’s passion was insufficient for our redemption. Before Christ died, He cried out, “It is finished,” meaning that He had accomplished our redemption. But, as Pope Pius XII said in his encyclical on the Mystical Body (Mystici Corporis Christi): “In carrying out the work of redemption Christ wishes to be helped by the members of His Body. This is not because He is indigent or weak, but rather because He so willed it for the greater glory of His spotless Spouse (Church). Dying on the Cross, He left to the Church the immense treasury of the Redemption. Towards this she (the Church) contributed nothing. But when those graces come to be distributed, not only does He share this task of sanctification with His Church, but he wants it, in a way, to be due to her action. What a deep mystery . . . that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body offer for that intention, and on the assistance of pastors of souls and of the faithful…” Jesus wants to honor us, the members of His Mystical body by participating in His redemptive mission (Colo.1:24). Compiled by Fr. Herman (Feb. 11’07--the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes).

Suffering and The Cross part 2

Suffering & The Cross The Shrine at Lourdes was chosen last year for the World Day of Prayer, because it was the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In fact, it was on Dec. 8, 1854, that Blessed Pius IX, affirmed that “the most Blessed Virgin Mary was, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from every stain of original sin.” At Lourdes, Mary, speaking in the local dialect, said: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” With these words, did not the Virgin perhaps wish to express the bond which joins together health and life? Just as death entered the world through original sin, so through the merits of Jesus Christ, God preserved Mary from every stain of sin, and salvation and life came to us (Rom. 5:12-21). The original plan of God for creation was thereby restored in Christ. The great work of Redemption, accomplished through the precious blood of Christ, began with the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In Jesus, every person is called to the fullness of holiness (Col. 1:28). Just as Jesus is the source of life which overcomes death, Mary is the solicitous mother who comes to the assistance of her children, obtaining for them health of body and soul. This is the message that the Shrine of Lourdes constantly presents to devotees and pilgrims. This is also the meaning of the physical and spiritual healings that take place in the grotto of Massabielle. From the day of her apparition to St. Bernadette Soubirous, Mary’s prayers “cured” pain and sickness, restoring health of body to so many of her children. However, her intercession achieved even more surprising miracles in the souls of believers, opening their hearts to re-encounter her Son Jesus, the true response to the most profound aspirations of the human heart. The Holy Spirit, whose power overshadowed her at the moment of the Incarnation, transforms the souls of countless sick people who turn to Him. Even when they do not obtain health in body, they can always receive something even more important—conversion of heart, the source of peace and of interior joy. This gift transforms their existence and makes them apostles of the cross of Christ, vessels of hope even when confronted with the most difficult trials. Suffering is part of the human condition, and man has to learn to accept and overcome it. But how can we do that, if not through the cross of Christ? In the death and resurrection of the Redeemer, human suffering finds its most profound meaning and its salvific value. The entire weight of the tribulations and sufferings of the human race is condensed in the mystery of a God who, assuming our human nature, denied Himself even to the point of making Himself “sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21). On Golgotha, He was weighed down with the sins of every human creature and, in the solitude of abandonment, cried out to the Father: “Why have you abandoned me?” (Mt. 27:46). From the paradox of the Cross flows the response to our most unsettling questions. Christ suffers for us. He takes upon Himself the suffering of all and redeems it. Christ suffers with us, giving us the possibility of sharing with Him our own sufferings. United to the sufferings of Christ, human suffering becomes a means of salvation. That is why the believer can say with St. Paul: “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the Church” (Col. 1:24). Sorrow, accepted with faith, becomes the door for entering into the mystery of the redeeming suffering of the Lord. This is a suffering which does not take away peace and happiness, because it is illuminated by the splendor of the Resurrection. At the foot of the Cross, Mary suffers in silence, participating in a very special way in the sufferings of her Son. She became the mother of all people, ready to intercede so that every one can obtain salvation. It is not difficult to understand this singular participation of Our Lady in the salvific role of Christ. The miracle of the Immaculate Conception reminds believers of a fundamental truth. It is only possible to attain salvation by participating with docility in the plan of the Father, who willed to redeem the world through the death and the resurrection of His only-begotten Son. He wanted to show how He loves us. He wanted to show the horribleness of sin and the displeasure we earn by our disobedience to His commandments. He wanted us to know the costliness of attaining heaven. He also wanted to tell us how sin is infectious, like a ripple in a lake. With Baptism, the believer is inserted into this salvific plan and is freed from original sin. Sickness and death, although they continue to be present in our earthly existence, nonetheless lose their negative meaning. In the light of faith, the death of the body, conquered by the death of Christ (Rom. 6:4), becomes the obligatory passage to the fullness of immortal life. I recall what Mother Teresa said when she visited our seminary in Madras in the year 1963: “You are to become apostles of joy, to console the Sacred Heart of Jesus through joy. You have heavy crosses waiting for you in your future ministry. Remember the passion of Christ ends always in the joy of Resurrection; so when you feel in your own heart the suffering of Christ, remember the Resurrection has to come, the joy of Easter has to dawn. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Risen Christ.” I know this has been repeatedly told to her sisters. God is love, and we are truly called to become instruments of His love on earth, not to become apostles of compromise of God’s teachings for the sake of peace. We do a disservice to our fellow man if we do not point out their error and ignorance. We are called to lift the veil of untruth and error and show the beauty of God and His plan for human beings. At Christmas in the Eastern Church, there is a practice of embroidering the swaddling clothes with the Sign of the Cross. Also, the figure of the Divine Infant is presented with arms extended, as he would be on the Cross. We have the same kind of baby Jesus in our parish. In those symbolic ways is presented the unity of the mystery of redemption, joy, and sorrow. From the wood of the crib to the wood of the cross, the mystery is one. The poverty, the abandonment, the rejection which Jesus suffered on the Cross, He already experienced at His coming. We need to understand that life should be the same. Just as beneath the Cross there was the comfort of loving hearts, so at Bethlehem He was greeted with the joyful welcome of pure hearts and the song of the angels. When we celebrate His coming every year with special solemnity, we greet Him with the age-old song, “Venite adoremus”, “Come let us adore Him.” Beneath the Cross, our prayer of worship is the same: ‘We adore thee, O Christ, and praise thee.’ In our lives, punctuated by the interplay of Bethlehem joy and Calvary sorrow; we are certain that the same love that made Him come and made Him die for us, is always beside us. This is the mystery of the Cross. Pray to Our Blessed Mother of Perpetual Help that she may help every Christian witness to the fact that the only authentic response to sorrow, suffering, and death is Christ, our Lord, who died and rose for us. Compiled by Fr. Herman April 11, 2004