Sacred Heart of Jesus Have mercy On Us

Sacred Heart of Jesus Have mercy On Us

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mother of God Pray for Us

Rosary—its power
Ben and his wife had the beautiful custom of praying the Rosary every night before retiring. Not long after she passed away, Ben stopped in to talk to his pastor about marrying again. The pastor suggested, “Aren’t you pretty old, Ben, to be thinking about marrying again?” To which Ben responded, “You are right father, but I need someone to answer the Rosary.” How devoted this couple must have been in their devotion to Mary. Today we celebrate Mother’s Day. May I wish all the mothers here, ‘A Very Happy Mother’s Day’. Also we celebrate today the 90th anniversary of Our Lady’s Apparition in Fatima. Mary was given to us from the cross as our Mother. Let us read John 19:26, 27. Also we find in the book of Isaiah that she has already been foretold. Let us take Is. 7:14.
Our Lady appeared in Fatima 6 times to three children: Jacinta and her two cousins Lucia and Francesco. She appeared beginning 13th May. But in August she appeared on the 19th since the communists put the children in jail. The final appearance was on October 13, which was a tremendous one. Seventy thousand people witnessed one of the greatest miracles of all time: the sun suddenly turned pale, emitted brilliant rays of multicolored light, spun three times on its axis and then, to the horror of the assembled multitude, “power-dived” dizzily towards earth. A terrified cry arose from the crowd as thousands fell to their knees thinking the end of the world was at hand.
You may recall the Apostolic Letter written by our late Holy Father John Paul, on the Rosary. He presents the Rosary, when prayed with meditation on its mysteries, as preparation for a more fruitful celebration and participation in the Sacrifice of the Mass. We have been saying the Rosary in our parish led by me before the Masses for many years. The Rosary prepares us for the celebration of the Holy Mass. It re-echoes the divine mysteries we celebrate at the Holy Mass. What we contemplate in the Mysteries of the Rosary is sacramentally present in the Divine Liturgy. Hence, there is power in praying the Rosary, and the Mysteries of Christ contemplated during the Rosary become ours. This is why the late Pope John Paul said repeatedly, “The Rosary is my favorite prayer.” The Sacrifice of the Mass is the favorite and most powerful prayer of the Parish Family. The Rosary should be the favorite prayer of our individual families—the domestic Church—the Church of the home.
Every time Our Blessed Mother appeared at Fatima she said, “Pray the Rosary.” We call her today on this 90th anniversary, “Our Lady of Fatima”, but that is not the name our Lady gave to herself. In fact, she said, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” The power of the Rosary is seen in Our Lady’s words at Fatima on May 13, 1917: “Say the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” All the apparitions took place on the 13th of every month, except in August when they took place on the 19th, since the children were caught and jailed by the communists.
On July 13, the three children proclaimed to the world, “Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.” Today many Catholics are allergic to the Rosary. Evening time people are drawn to sports, entertainment, movies, gluttony and worldly pleasures and they have no time for the Rosary. This is why we are in big mess because the families today do not pray the Rosary daily. You may recall in the year 1917 World War I was raging. She also said war was a punishment for sins. She requested the children, “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners.” What is she actually saying? When we pray the Rosary and pray it properly we, as it were, empower Mary to have powerful intercession to her Son even unto ending a world war and bringing peace to the world.
The message of Fatima begins with the Holy Eucharist and ends with the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass brings us the Real Presence of the body, the blood, soul and the divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But the Mass is still more than that. This means that when we are at Mass, Jesus offers -- and He perpetuates here and now --the self-same Sacrifice of Himself, which He offered on Mt. Calvary on the first Good Friday. When we are at Mass, we are just as present at Jesus’ infinite act of Sacrifice of the Cross, as we would have been, had we stood with our Blessed Mother and St. John the Apostle at the foot of the Cross on Calvary.
The year before Our Blessed Mother appeared holding the Rosary, the Angel of the Holy Eucharist appeared: that was in1916. The Angel left the chalice and the Host suspended in mid-air and fell down in adoration of God in the Most Blessed Sacrament, with his head to the ground. The three children followed the Angel and did the same. And the Angel taught the three children a beautiful prayer: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I beg pardon of You, for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!” We too can recite this prayer whenever we pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.
At first, the children saw the Angel holding in his hands a chalice surmounted by a Host, from which some drops of blood were falling into the chalice. What does that tell us? The precious Blood of Jesus is in the Host as well as in the Chalice, yes. Jesus is whole and entire, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under both consecrated forms, yes. But more! Jesus’ body is shedding His precious Blood in the same way as He did on Calvary. We are reminded at Fatima by the Host with its blood falling into the chalice that every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass perpetuates the Sacrifice of the Cross Jesus offered on Calvary. We could ask the question: from where did the Angel get the 3 Hosts? The answer is from the tabernacle of the parish church of St. Michael’s. The priest found three Hosts missing from the ciborium on the following day! Things were kept quite, because the communist government could jail the children. Perhaps most of us do not know that the three children of Fatima were given a vision of hell. And Our Blessed Mother taught them the following prayer which we say between each decade of the Rosary: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need of Thy mercy.”
This is a great prayer taught by her. After this the children were always found in the church praying and fasting for the conversion of sinners before the Blessed Sacrament. Maria Rosa, the mother of Lucia, went all over the streets and homes looking for the children. It never came into her mind to suspect they might be in the church. That is where she found them several times. I have visited Fatima three times and said Masses in the apparition site. Once I was literally lifted up while saying mass. Fatima was a tremendous experience for me that recharged the spiritual batteries. It has been a life -changing event for me.
There were three secrets given to the children. One was the fall of Russia, if only the people would pray the Rosary and offer for the conversion of Russia. That happened. The second one was about World War II, which would come upon the world if people did not repent and change their lives. The third one is about the Pope’s tragedy (shot down) and that his life would be spared and also about the fall of the many priests, Bishops, and the faithful, if they did not pray and be faithful to the Catholic Faith. All these have happened and the falling away is still happening. We only know half of the third secret. The other half is not yet revealed by the Pope. The bullet which almost killed Pope John Paul was brought by the Pope to Fatima and he put it on the crown of our Lady of Fatima in gratitude for saving his life from the shot fired at him. May our Lady of Fatima intercede for us and inspire us!

-Homily of Father Hermanigild Jayachandra

6th Sunday of Easter

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jezebel, the Marian Counterfeit.

Peace of the Lord be upon all brothers and sisters of Him. I am busy working and growing in Him which means blog time must be set aside. The lesson of balancing priorities and discipline can be tough at times and perhaps excruciatingly painful, but we must master our passionate disorders if we are ever to grow and to progress. Sometimes creating written communication can be like giving birth, exhausting and draining, and so we need moments to regroup and gain the stabilizing ground of His comfort. In moments of growth which indeed involves prayer, we are never really far from the cross, if we are genuinely seeking His will. I am currently creating some items concerning Marian intercession because it is good to focus on lighter moments of spiritual reality at times. Yet in my prayer time I will casually pick up a book, flipping through pages dog-eared years ago, and something captivates my attention. So I will not go too deep or intellectual for the moment but underscore certain basic insights provided by others over the years.

Consider this checklist: Red Flags
1) "I just want to be your friend." More than likely, people who say these things will have expectations that you will never be able to meet.

2) " I just want to help you get to where God has called you." In other words, "you cannot get to your destiny without me." Beware!

3) " There are no strings attached to my help. I just want to serve." However, you'll find lots of hidden strings.

4) "You can trust me. I will always support you." Such people will support you as long as you do what they say!

5) "You do not acknowledge my gifting." People like this are asking you for more authority in the church.

I am showing five points worth contemplating when faced with opposition or hardship as we tread down the narrow path, found in a very interesting book I acquired years ago, and this book is not for the fainthearted, arrogantly disbelieving, or self-deceived. If you frequent the confessional I suspect you will see an element of yourself at one time or another in your life, in this particular text. Gut level self-examination is rare and that is why so few ever go to confession because they have deluded themselves into believing a lie. The lie is we are not sinful and ,of course, not in need of reconciliation, yet we will hold our head's up high in the communion line and receive the Lord's body unworthily thinking we can fool Him and perhaps steal a little grace. The exact same posturing individuals will spread other's sins throughout church cliques and parishes. I will give this warning once, if an individual takes it upon himself to accuse a person of sin that is under the seal of confession, you are treading dangerous ground and you are operating in a spirit of Satan. No, you are not momentarily weak or gravely mistaken, temptingly cajoled by an isolated demon, you are in fact under the influence of a powerful, high ranking, but clearly fallen principality. This is a fact.
"Accusation's power is satanic. It sows fear in an individual's heart. It causes people to run. Satan is the accuser of the brethren(Revelation 12:10), as well as the father of lies. A spirit of accusation has no truthful rationale behind it. Therefore, it cannot be reasoned with. It can only be dealt with as the Holy Spirit enlightens those in leadership. As with Korah, there will always be something to camouflage the real issue, which is a spirit of lawlessness. Those who walk in an accusing spirit are actually agreeing with the doctrine of demons. Therefore, God will hold them accountable, no matter what situation they are trying to correct. This is why the apostle James says that wherever you find slander and accusation, there also exists every evil thing (James 3:16).
-Excerpted from the writings of John Paul Jackson

Accusation is closely interwoven with the grave sin of calumny. The lack of appropriate reverence and obedience to authority has manifested in this lawlessness in church communities. I gave up on most group activities years ago because they were dens of gossip and slander. It escalated to a point where I could not even sneak a quiet moment with the Lord during adoration without overhearing someone slandering the local priest. One daily mass frequenter whined in the sacristy for all to hear in passing, complaining that she was sick of hearing the Bishop talk about Mother Teresa all the time. To bemoan the example of a saint makes me wonder what daily mass avails such individuals.
I appreciate that we would all rather bang a tambourine and be entertained with the guise of charismatic praise at Mass. Personally, it is much easier to live in the delusion and listen to mariachi music or catholic rap, and deem it higher worship. I am waiting for the moment they start serving cocktails during sacred liturgy because people cannot seem to function without their flesh being entertained. We want to recreate 'Sister Act' grand standing, drawing attention to ourselves and away from the sacrifice of the Mass. Jesus doesn't need our applause for our feeble praise adds nothing to His glory, but He does desire our reverence, our obedience, and hitting the pavement on our knees in worship. And I believe obedience begins with the submission to authority. Pastoral authority, magisterial authority, doctrinal authority, and Papal authority. Embracing all elements of church teaching is fundamental to being a genuine Catholic and anything less is lack of true communion with Our church. To attack this authority is not to be under the direction of the Holy Spirit. So where is my chatter leading? I could give more examples but I have been around long enough, and seen enough over the years, to experience true exasperation at times but the bottom line is this ,Jezebel.
Her name is Jezebel and think of her as satan's girlfriend. Behind all lawlessness, accusation, calumny, gossip, slander, disobedience to and disrespect for all hierarchy of Church authority, and irreverence and the ultimate division it breeds, there she lurks. Her manifestation which is becoming so active and prevalent is a palpable smoke and bad stink lingering in our sacred places. This is why I revert to Mary, Blessed Mother, for I need her swift kick interceding for me in my journey.

"Individuals with a Jezebel spirit are skilled in getting their way. They may use strategies of flattery, persuasion, sexual seduction, slander, lying, accusation, intimidation, secrecy, persecution, framing another person for a wrong done, or generating emotional and/or spiritual dependency in someone... If a situation is not resolved to their satisfaction, Jezebel will malign, insinuate, badmouth, smear their target and plant libelous doubts in the minds of others. They will coyly violate disciplinary instructions, in an attempt to garner misguided sympathy and support. This tactic seems to satiate Jezebel's false sense of justice."
- Excerpted from the writings of John Paul Jackson
I think what fascinates me about the formation of creation by our Creator is the mere process and consequent offspring of the spoken word. God spoke and all that we see created including ourselves is the result of His Word. The same Word becomes incarnate and Jesus enters humanity. Words are mysteriously powerful for they create life and being. On the other hand, we can literally murder the human heart and contribute to the psychological and spiritual demise of others via the unrestrained utterances falling from a vapid tongue. Filthy and destroying words fall out of our mouths like drool at times, and it really only reveals in the end the disfigured and darkened condition of our soul. Words can kill. The same individuals who stake out holy houses and ingratiate themselves in every group imaginable, defiling one brother or sister after another, under the masquerade of Christian concern yet deeply intent on calumniating every and any unsuspecting victim, are much further away from Christ than the most violent drug addicts and prostitutes roaming the drudgery of the streets. The sad reality is all of the fallen away Catholics I have met over the years, denying themselves the grace of the sacraments, and it always is because some militant tongue spoke poison to them and the wounds were disastrous.
In the end we see the results of a deeply embedded spiritual wound misguiding and ultimately contaminating the healthy psychology of the human soul. These wounds become festering and open doors in our soul, affecting the human mind, and oftentimes avail the opportunity for deeply entrenched strongholds to manifest. And what is a mental stronghold? It is not a chemical reality or psychotic disturbance but a severe spiritual condition that can lead to our own demise and misfortune.
" A stronghold is an area of the mind where darkness reigns. It is a system of logic, rooted in a lie, that an individual has come to accept. This system of thought is formed behind and habitual response, addiction, fixation, compulsion, obsession, and/or inordinate fear. As such, a stronghold is any though pattern alien to the Word of God. it serves as a mental or emotional " command post " to which the enemy has access. This mental or emotional word or thought system is designed to create misinformation and thereby affect and individual's decision-making ability. Consequently, a stronghold keeps a person from embracing true Christ likeness."
-excerpted from the writings of John Paul Jackson
Read the old testament and learn the lessons of the spiritual castration of God's given and appointed authority, ministerial or spiritual or even prophetic, and look at the fate of one who is so arrogant to rise above it. We need prayer, penance, and sacrifice so desperately today. The challenge is to seek the avenues of prayer that avail us so much grace because without such we are impotent and crippled in the warfare raging in our world today. I am so sick and tired of dealing with this one for her infection plagues too many to number, and it is a deadly spiritual poison to be avoided. Commit yourself to avoid those occasions or persons completely who operate in the fallen realm. If you belong to a study or prayer group and more time is wasted gossiping or calumniating, rather than praising the Lord and edifying His brethren, that is the evidence of instruction to evacuate quickly. Disengage from the persons and situations that attack and undermine any structure or assignment of true Church authority. Always pray and intercede but do not fall into the deceptive temptation toward unwarranted mercy for those who proactively reject God's commands and engage in unchecked and continuous evil. Most importantly never trust any person walking in such a spiritual condition lest you be caught in the line of fire.
The book I reference is called 'Unmasking the Jezebel Spirit,' by John Paul Jackson. I learned about such malevolent activity primarily from contending with so many individuals under its influence, but I found direction through a holy lay woman and a wise priest far more learned that anyone I hope to meet again. Pray. Peace of Him.

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