Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Come, follow me!"

"I am often asked, especially by young people, why I became a priest. Maybe some of you would like to ask the same question. Let me try briefly to reply.

"I must begin saying that it is impossible to explain entirely, for it remains a mystery, even to myself. How does one explain the ways of God? Yet, I know that at a certain point in my life, I became convinced that Christ was saying to me what He had said to thousands before me: "Come, follow me!" There was a clear sense that what I heard in my heart was no human voice, nor was it just an idea of my own. Christ was calling me to serve Him as a priest.

"And you can probably tell, I am deeply grateful to God for my vocation to the priesthood. Nothing means more to me or gives me greater joy than to celebrate the Mass each day and to serve God's people in the Church. That has been true since the day of my ordination as a priest. Nothing has ever changed it, not even becoming Pope." ~ His Holiness Pope Venerable John Paul II, Los Angeles (Sept. 15, 1987)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pilgrimages I Hope to Make Before I Die

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem:

The Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, La Salette, France:

The Tomb of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Écône, Valais, Switzerland:

The Hill of Crosses, Šiauliai, Lithuania:

The Sanctuary and Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Lourdes, France:

Maybe one day.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Behold the Cross, Horrible & Beautiful

There are pictures I have seen of saints, popes,, religious, lay men and women contemplating and adoring the crucifix. I never understood how someone could just stare at a crucifix for minutes, even hours on end. Then a while ago, I caught myself doing something I have in reality been doing for a very long time: contemplating the crucifix.

I found myself staring down at the St. Benedict cross around my neck and thinking about Our Blessed Lord, and I realized: the crucifix is a paradoxical image. It is the most horrible and most beautiful image we can gaze upon in the world. In it, we witness the greatest act of love the world has ever know, and on it we witness the most horrible act that man could ever commit. Our Lord gave Himself over to us, and we killed Our Lord on the cross - all so that we could live.

This is the greatest act of love that was done by a Man, and this Man is my God. He is your God. And He is the God of every man, woman, child that breathes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

There is a Man on the Cross I cannot take down

There is a Man on the Cross I cannot take down.

In the Reconciliation Chapel where I take Confession, there is a giant crucifix that dominates the room. The crucifix was commissioned in Oberammergau, Bavaria, Germany, in 1930 and was originally in St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows, the old seat of the bishop. It is nearly life size, the cross made of wood and the corpus of Christ is bronze. It is a beautiful work.

The crucifix is a beautiful thing to contemplate, and often I stare at it while I wait to confess. I stare at His face, His pierced side, but more often than not I find myself staring at His feet. I don't know why. I find feet the most disgusting part of the human body, but I find myself drawn to the feet of Christ. They are beautiful and painful at the same time. I try and imagine the pain of having my feet pierced with nails, and sometimes it becomes so real the tops and soles of my own feet ache in pain.

Sometimes I stare at my Lord, hanging there on the cross for me. He has been on that cross for near 2,000 years now. He hangs there with His arms open, beckoning all to witness His sacrifice. He holds them open, displaying His wounds, naked and suffering so we can witness what we have done to Him. And He holds His arms open wide, waiting for us to take Him down.

I often think about taking Him down, when I stare at that cross. I imagine Him falling into my arms, how heavy His body is weighed down with the sins of the world. I realize how weak I am, unable to hold Him up, His blood running over me and staining my clothes and the ground. I cannot hold Him up, and I cannot take Him down. I cannot take Him down because I am the one who keeps Him up there. Every confession I loosen the nails that hold Him up there, but every sin I commit drives them deeper. I am the source of His suffering, and His continual pain.

I love this Man Whom I crucify. I love Him because He loves me enough to bear the pain I inflict upon Him. I love Him because He bears the weight I cannot, and takes the punishment that is meant for me. I pray one day will come I will be able to take those nails out completely, and He can come down from that Cross. But that day is not today.

Lately after doing my penance in front of that crucifix, I kiss the feet of Our Lord. I do this because it is the very least I can do. Because there is a Man on the Cross I cannot take down.