We find in these days such a struggle in remaining strong in our resolutions, in our convictions, in the reverence and service of the Divine Majesty. It seems at times that our whole foundation is struck, to cause us to scatter. With scandal inside the Church. With the ever greater secularization of society, where piety is seen as weak or misguided.
In these recent past years, I have tried to go to the origin of things, to understand, to embrace, to challenge myself. We know the origin of the Catholic Church, Christ calling Saint Peter and proclaiming that he, Peter, is the rock upon which the Church will always stand, and Christ would be her cornerstone.
Trusting with a hope we can only beg for, from our Our Lord and from Our Lady, we can and must only have recourse to love. True love. Love Crucified. And why such an emphasis on the Crucifixion? I receive so much criticism that this piety at the foot of the Cross, day in and day out, is outdated and oppressive. Or the criticism that sorrow doesn’t lead to true love, or at least not pure and intense love. But it behooves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection: by Whom we are saved, and delivered. [Introit, Exaltation of the Cross]. On the day which we particularly celebrate the Cross, as in THAT IS WHAT THE DAY IS ALL ABOUT, the question is why this celebration? There isn’t much more to say than what the Introit itself says. The Priest, the people, mark themselves with the Sign of the Cross, and say: in Christ on the Cross is found our SALVATION, our LIFE, our RESURRECTION.
That brings me to the Mass of Ember Friday in September. I was praying Lauds this morning and was struck by the antiphon for the Magnificat (commemorated today as its the Feast of Saint Matthew). It follows:
A woman in the city which was a sinner stood at the Lord’s Feet behind Him, and began to wash His Feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His Feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
It is this woman who has inspired me for years to embrace the fourth vow of the Passionists: of keeping the memory of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ always in our hearts. It is her love which inspires me.
She before anyone, made reparation to Our Precious Lord, in anticipation of His Sacred Passion and Death. The Feet which would trod the Via Crucis and would climb the Cross only to be pierced, by my hand, by your hand, were washed with tears, kissed, and anointed by this woman, a known sinner, whose life had been made new in the Love of Christ, in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection: by Whom we are saved, and delivered.
Looking at the Introit for the Ember Friday Mass we see what this sort of love leads to:
Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord! Look to the Lord, and be strengthened; seek His face evermore. Give thanks to the Lord, invoke His name; make known among the nations His deeds. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord! Look to the Lord, and be strengthened; seek His face evermore.
And, it was this woman who bathed the Feet of our Lord with her tears, with her love, who would be the first to step foot in the Tomb after the Resurrection.
I say this, because we are always told that Catholics are both/and (et/et) people. The Cross and the Glory. Love and asceticism. Joy and Sorrow. I just pray that people who embrace this will be able to find their way in these turbulent times.