Our Temptation To Reject Our Crosses

Fr. Andrew M. Greeley

Fifth Week of Lent
March 25, 2012

Jesus Christ gives greatest glory to the Father precisely in the shattering degradation and utmost ignominy of the Cross. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (Jn 12,23) Dying Jesus destroys our death and rising he restores our life, but the work must now be completed for each of us daily.

You and I share in Christ’s glorious completion of the Father’s will when we too accept the Cross and the Passion heroically and generously in our lives: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (Jn 12, 24) It appears at first as though Christ merely reminds us that we too must die as he will, and prepares us to accept it. But listen to what he says next: “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” This dying, then, is one which bears fruit by detachment from this world for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. A daily dying to the self by overcoming a million petty urges and desires. A generous acceptance of the duties of marriage and family life with cheerfulness. A configuring to the truth by rejection of sin and regular Confession.

A husband meets his greatest challenge to die to self and live for Christ as he devotedly cares for his terminally ill wife unto the end, never counting the cost in dollars or days. He has chosen Christ and “hated” his own life in this world so that he can live forever. A wife attends to her paraplegic husband in a heroic living of her marriage vows, choosing Christ and his life, and “hating” her life in this world because she looks forward with anticipation to the day when both she and her husband will know no more pain, suffering, labor or temptation.

A parent unconditionally loves his child even if it is affected by Down’s syndrome, open to the Godly beauty and goodness that child has brought into the world. He “hates” his life in this world and sees a foretaste of heaven in the innocence of his child. He desires to share forever in the glory of God’s love and understands that he must reject the very easy path of selfishness. The infertile couple reject the temptation to manipulate the process of life-giving through unnatural methods of conception and open themselves to the joys of adoption. They truly “hate” their lives in this world in reverence for God and the desire to do his will, choosing salvation as their greatest hope over the other good things this life offers.

We are not alone in our temptation to reject the crosses by which we are born into life if we will only bear them with patience and courage. Our sharing in baptism is the gift of grace so that we can desire a share in Christ’s redemptive passion as the focus and purpose of our lives.

“The desire to embrace his Father’s plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus’ whole life, (Cf. Lk 12:50; 22:15; Mt 16:21-23) for his redemptive passion was the very reason for his Incarnation. And so he asked, ‘And what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.’ (Jn 12:27) And again, ‘Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?’ (Jn 18:11) From the cross, just before ‘It is finished,’ he said, ‘I thirst.’ (Jn 19:30; 19:28) ” (CCC 607)

In our prayer let us truly thirst for the Father’s will in and with Jesus our Lord as we utter the words “Thy will be done.”


A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
March 25, 2012

Fifth Sunday of Lent: The Hour Has Come
I would like to do something a bit different this morning. Rather than develop a homily as such, I would like to lead you in a meditation upon one word, one concept which we find in today’s Gospel. Today we come upon the word hour. I want to dwell on this with you in a meditative spirit.

First, to begin we need a little background. We just heard the phrase, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” The concept of the hour has a deep theological meaning in the entire Gospel of John. Actually I found nineteen times in that Gospel where Jesus uses the phrase, “The hour”.

Unless a Grain of Wheat
All of us want the very best for those we love. But as we pursue it, we often have a rude awakening. The best turns out to be quite expensive, whether you are dealing with homes, cars, or colleges. To get it will cost much time and money, maybe even some blood, sweat, and tears.

We are then presented with the opportunity for a gut-check. How badly do we really want the best? Is it a burning desire that is strong enough to propel us up the steep hill we need to climb to get to the top? Or would we rather just settle for less?

The Lenten Fast: Spiritual Warfare
Persevering through mid-Lent is one of the great spiritual challenges of Catholic living. The initial enthusiasm for penance and self-reform has waned, and Easter is still on the far horizon. Bellies growl and bodies itch in the absence of food, drink, and other pleasures we have given up. In turmoil we ask ourselves, “What is the point of fasting anyway?”

What is Piety? And How Does a Lack of Piety Spell Doom for Us?
In the modern world the word “piety” has come to be associated with being religious. And while it does have religious application, its original meaning was far wider and richer. The English word “piety” comes from the Latin pietas, which spoke of family love, and by extension love for one’s ancestors, of one’s country, and surely of God. Cicero defined pietas as the virtue “which admonishes us to do our duty to our country or our parents or other blood relations.”

Powerful Letter to the Editor! “What Has America Become” by Ken Huber of Tawas City
“What Has America Become” was the title of a letter to the editor written by Ken Huber of Tawas City, Michigan. It contains a series of comparisons and contrasts which causes one to think about the double-standards and conditions under which we now live here in America.

U.S. Bishops Launch Religious Liberty Prayer Campaign
The U.S. bishops have launched a nationwide prayer campaign to defend religious liberty against recent threats such as the federal contraception mandate.

The campaign centers around a newly released “Prayer for Religious Liberty,” which asks God to grant “a clear and united voice” to all who gather to defend rights of conscience “in this decisive hour in the history of our nation.”

How to Develop a Prayer Life that Transforms
On Ash Wednesday a wise priest said, “For Heaven’s sake, don’t give up anything for Lent, if you’re just thinking of chocolate, coffee, alcohol, or facebook. Turn your heart to God! Free yourself of the aggravation, anger, jealousy, and hatred that separates you from him. But how, you may ask? Through prayer, daily prayer.”

Lent is a time for us all to take a good hard look at our personal regimen of prayer. Do we have one? Is it stable and ordered, or merely spontaneous, whenever we happen to feel like it? Some of us might admit to ourselves that we have never really developed one.

Hiding in the Wounds of Christ
To hide in the wounds of Christ and to draw strength from his passion, this is what the mystery of the Mass opens to, and this is especially true for those who suffer. The prayer Christ offered the night before He died is the source and summit of all prayer, even the feeble prayers of those who feel unable to pray at all. This is why Christian prayer has a sacrificial character. Since the Last Supper, all genuine prayer flows from and leads to the Cross, and it is the august mystery of Christ crucified into whose arms we are meant to be raised when we raise our hearts at Mass.

Taking up the Cross – Moments of Grace
Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:23-28)

“Thou Shall Not Kill” and War: 16 Teachings of the Catholic Church
The following is the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s treatment on war, which is discussed under the 5th Commandment – “Thou Shall Not Kill.”

1. Mortal Sin & Praiseworthy Anger

2302 By recalling the commandment, “You shall not kill,” our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral.

Anger is a desire for revenge. “To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,” but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution “to correct vices and maintain justice.” If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”

Mary, Mother of Mercy. Christ the Power of Merciful Love
Where does the title, “Mary, Mother of Mercy,” come from? We have many popular prayers that speak of Mary as Mother of Mercy. For example, “Hail holy Queen, Mother of mercy” … and, later: “turn, then, your eyes of mercy towards us.” In another prayer, the Memorare, we hear: “To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful, O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions but in your mercy, hear and answer me.” Moreover, in the lives of the saints, we hear Mary referred to as “Mother of mercy.” Once, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska had a vision of the Blessed Mother. Mary said to Sr. Faustina: “I am not only the Queen of Heaven, but also the Mother of Mercy, and your Mother” (Diary of St. Faustina,330).

The History of the Stations of the Cross
No doubt, the Blessed Mother and the Apostles held the sites of our Lord’s sorrowful passion in esteem. We might even think of the Blessed Virgin going to visit the places where she met Christ on the way to Calvary and even praying at the very hill of our redemption.

Early Christians in the Holy Land remained devoted to these various stations. The stairs and praetorium where Christ was tried by Pontius Pilate was well known as was the place of our Lord’s Crucifixion and Resurrection.

Catholicism and Free Thought
One of the favorite bats the anti-Catholics like to hit us with is the idea that Catholicism, because it is a dogmatic religion–must therefore stifle free thought and free speech.

“How nice for you” the condescending Anglican will say to the convert, “Now you’re a Catholic you won’t have to think anymore.” Or, “It must be nice to be a Catholic and have such ‘certainty.’” This is said with a snuffling, cynical laugh because by ‘certainty’ they mean that you have become a mindless moron–a Kool Aid drinking cult member following the demands of your leader in white without thinking.

St. Joseph and the Staircase
I decided to take the southern route while driving across the country a couple years ago. I’d never been to Santa Fe, and wanted to get a glimpse of its historical riches – especially its mission churches, which predate the ones in California (from the 1770s) I have known from my youth.

Santa Fe’s old town square district is charming and lively. Only a few blocks away from the cathedral stands one of the oldest churches in the United States – the San Miguel chapel. Its huge wooden support beams, visible throughout the interior, are as indicative of its surroundings as its adobe walls, constructed in 1610.

Catholicism, Protestantism, and Saint Paul’s Vision of the Church
At or near the heart of the Reformation is a debate over Saint Paul, and how we should understand his writings, particularly his statements about justification in his Epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians. This is an interesting exegetical question, but in my opinion, it overlooks an obvious reality: St. Paul would never have been a Protestant. His views on the Church simply wouldn’t permit such a thing.

I’ve discussed St. Paul’s views on the Church in the past, but I wanted to focus on a specific passage from Ephesians 4:11-14, in which he writes:

5 abortion workers quit during 40 Days campaign
A few days ago I mentioned that this is the time during the 40 Days for Life campaign where we see abortion workers’ hearts begin to change … and now we know of employees who are leaving the abortion industry.

In fact, there have been five of them!

I can’t disclose the campaigns — I’m told there are others who are also considering leaving, and any publicity could only add to the pressure these people are currently facing.

One abortion worker met prayer volunteers at the 40 Days for Life vigil outside and said with a smile: “This is my last day in this hell hole!”

Why do Catholics abstain from meat?
It’s not because meat tastes better than fish. It’s not because meat is (or ever was) a delicacy. It’s not because the apostles were fishermen. It’s not even because Christ offered his flesh upon the Cross on a Friday (at least, that isn’t the first reason).

Christians fast from meat in order to overcome the passions of the flesh. We have always believed that flesh-meat causes an increase in temptations to lust and anger, and this is why we abstain from meat rather than from fish, wine, or other foods.

What Is Sloth? It’s a bit more subtle than laziness
One of the more misunderstood of the Cardinal Sins is sloth. This is because most see it merely as laziness. But there is more to sloth than that. Lets take a moment and consider some aspects of the Cardinal sin we call in English, Sloth.

The Greek word we translate as sloth is ἀκηδία akedia (a = absence + kedos = care), meaning indifference or negligence. St Thomas speaks of sloth as sloth is sorrow for spiritual good. By it we it shun spiritual good, as toilsome (cf ST II-II 35,2).

Putting It That Way
The other day at our local coffee shop, I overheard some teenage girls talking about their lives. It started off with the ever amusing complaints about their “lame” mothers who try to rule their lives. Their voices carried and filled the whole back of the shop. There was no avoiding their often humorous diatribes. The girls were funny as they spoke of mothers who hover, control, and eavesdrop. One of them kept speaking of her mother’s obsession with whether or not the bedrooms in the house are clean. Can you imagine such a thing? They whined about how the one thing their lives miss is privacy. Why can’t their parents just see that these high school seniors are all grown up and don’t need their parents in their business?


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