March 15, 2013

Most Burning Love

I organized my whole afternoon yesterday so I would be able to watch the Holy Father's Mass with the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. I'm glad I did; there was much of interest to notice. The homily was especially striking. After the Mass I went to chapel for Vespers. During the meditation period, part of the homily kept coming back to me:

"When we journey without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we confess a Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: we are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord." (Zenit)

Strong words like that give me the worry that comes with knowing I could be a religious and a priest without being a disciple of the Lord. Is the Christ I claim to confess Christ crucified? Is the Cross at the center of my life? Do I take up my cross daily and follow him? (Luke 9:23)

As happens more and more, I start to ask myself what that even means. So I made that my prayer.

For me to confess Christ crucified would mean some things inside and some things outside.

First of all it means that I have crucified my flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24) and hate my body with its vices and sins (St. Francis, Earlier Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance I:2), or at least that I'm seeking the grace to begin to live this way.

But it also means that I accept my sufferings, those that I have brought upon myself with my own sins and those that I suffer through misfortune or the sins of others, without whining and without the various subtle forms of bitterness that are really just a sorry form of inside-out pride, and that I surrender to the Lord's burning desire to draw my sufferings into the mystery of his Passion, being drawn at the same time into a prayerful awareness and solidarity with all the suffering humanity around me.

Then it means that I need to go to those who suffer, to the crucified humanity of this world, to those whom the disregard and violence of the world have made less-than, dismissed, forgotten, those who count for nothing, and I need to place myself below them, setting them up in my heart as my masters, making myself their servant. It is only once I have sought from God to know what this might mean for me, and only once I have accepted from him the courage to do it, that I will become a lesser brother, a friar minor.

Finally, confessing Christ crucified means that I must allow my life to be wasted for his sake. I must surrender to becoming foolishness and a scandal to this world, to end up as nothing, immolated, a burnt man, such that when I die, whether it be today, tomorrow, or whenever, there will be nothing in particular to say about Charles as Charles, as if this historical person whom I have found myself to be should bear any noteworthy signification apart from Christ crucified.

Most High, Glorious God, I know and confess that there is no path for me but through the most burning love of Christ crucified. Help to see the path and grant me the courage to take it. Amen.

(The part I quoted starts around 5:34)


Tom said...

Dear Lord, may this be just a start-- May Pope Francis keeps sparking more of these kinds of reflections from you.

I'd grown lapse all week in my Lenten mindset--thank you for reigniting me to pick up a cross or two and follow Christ crucified and not be so judgmental and lapse in making Christ the center of my life.

Terry Nelson said...

He is a 'Seraphic' Pope.

He gave you a beautiful meditation - thanks.

Joan Posey Schmidt said...

Fr.Charles Thank you for the beautiful reflection, it defines vocation for all of us

Anonymous said...

Yes, we are all called to put our shoulder to the Cross at times, but we
must never lose sight also of the fact that Christ invites us to share in the triumph and happiness of His Ressurection. We will have our trials, physical and mental--that's part of the human condition--but we are custodians of the Good News and our hearts sing with Hope! Cecily.

Louis M said...

Cecily, what a beautiful reflection. Thank you so much. :)