‘Beneath the Cross, One Learns to Love’

“In these days, it is our task to go to the foot of the Cross and stay with Jesus and Mary.”

This verse was at the end of a small article from the Heralds of the Gospel magazine, June 2023 edition. In the midst of all the various articles there was a little half-page notice entitled “Revival of the Faith in Berlin.” It was a mere two columns, but it was the title and the photo of Adoration that caught my attention. The article stated that Berlin is known as the “atheist capital of Europe.” Yet, through innovative evangelization, the faith is making inroads and growing.

In 2006, the Archdiocese of Berlin was going through a serious financial crisis when the parishioners of St. Clement Parish decided to hold perpetual Eucharistic Adoration: 24 hours a day, perhaps the only one in Berlin. What happened? The article says, “Large numbers of the faithful attended.” Along with Adoration, they focused on doctrinal formation, Marian devotion, and the recitation of the rosary in the city streets.

‘NEW’ EVANGELIZATION

I recently studied the results of a study as we strive to renew the vitality of our parishes here in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau and as I ask every parish to implement the new Parish Pastoral Council Norms, the good news is that we do not have to recreate the wheel. Maybe we need to revitalize some things that fell by the wayside while pondering new ways to reach out to others. The call of the New Evangelization is as old as the Gospel itself, when Our Lord commanded us to go out and to teach all nations. We must avoid any type of novelty or feel the need for relevance when it comes to passing on the faith. As we move forward, moving from “maintenance to mission,” could it be that we just simply need to rediscover what we abandoned— for whatever reason—as a result of the aftermath of some of the changes that have occurred in the Church? The article I mentioned quoted a priest, who said, “Those faithful to Christ are surrounded by others who say we must abandon what Jesus taught us and what we have done for 2,000 years, and to update it for the 21st century.” And then he offered the classic line I quoted above: “In these days, it is our task to go to the foot of the Cross and stay with Jesus and Mary.”

Being within the shadow of the Cross is a privileged place to be. Padre Pio gives a beautiful insight: “Beneath the Cross one learns to love.” It may be some tragedy, some illness, or other devastation that brings us to the foot of the Cross. However, when we choose to stay at the foot of the Cross, uniting ourselves to Christ, we discover a God of love. The cross does not take away human suffering but rather gives it a deep meaning. The cross reminds us that God loves us so much that he held nothing back in giving us His son. At weddings, I typically highlight the cross as a visual definition of how far love should go in married life—total love, unconditional love, a love whereby the spouse instinctively knows that he or she would lay down his or her life for the other. Whatever it is that brings us to the foot of the Cross, it becomes an opportunity for us to unite ourselves more intimately to Christ and it can become a blessing. If not, the tragedies or illnesses of life can pull us away from faith and lead us to question the existence of a loving God. The events of life can make us either “bitter or better.” And when we choose the better, that means we are choosing to stand at the foot of the cross, where Padre Pio proclaims, “Beneath the cross one learns to love.” Maybe Padre Pio learned that truth from the sufferings he had to endure in his own life. It can be a difficult lesson to learn, but, at the same time, so life giving.

GOD BLESS AMERICA

The month of July is filled with beautiful feasts; St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Maria Goretti, St. Henry, St. Benedict, St. Kateri Tekakwitha St. Mary Magdalene, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and the Feast of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Of special concern is the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mother, and the grandparents of Jesus. “Grandparenting,” if that is a word, has changed over the past 50 years. For whatever reason, many grandparents today find themselves raising grandchildren. Special thanks to grandparents for all that they do. The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which, since it fell on a Sunday this year (July 16), was not celebrated. Still, praying the rosary at any time during July, would be a beautiful way to ask for the intercession of Our Lady on our country as we celebrate our independence. God Bless America!

Oh Sacrament Most Holy, oh Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”

 Published in the July 21, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
Photo Source: GettyImages