Lent 2007: February 2009 Archives

Via Crucis

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Under the Sign of the Cross

On this second day of Lent, Our Lord sets before us the whole mystery of His Passion, Cross, and Resurrection. Lent opens under the sign of the Cross; the Lenten pilgrimage is the Via Crucis, the way of the Cross. "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised"; (Lk 9:22).

The Cross leads straight into the promised land. To choose the Cross is to choose life:

I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendents may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him; for that means life to you and length of days (Dt 30:20).

Agápe

Not only does Our Lord show us the mystery; He invites us to follow Him into it. "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Lk 9:23). Just because one is suffering -- physically, emotionally, or spiritually -- does not mean that one is following Christ along the way of the Cross. Suffering alone is of no value. One who follows Christ along the way of the Cross sees Him infuse agápe, sacrificial love into every moment of His Passion. It is this and nothing else that gives suffering value; it ennobles it, making it precious in the sight of God and redemptive for the world. Agápe, self-giving sacrificial love, draws all the virtues after it: humility, obedience, silence, patience, meekness, fortitude, and mercy. Agápe is the love that pierces the heart with sorrow for sin and inflames it with the desire to make reparation.

The Cross Taken to Heart

How does the Way of the Cross described in today's Gospel pass from the sacred page into one's heart so as to find expression in one's life? What we commonly call devotion to the Passion is simply a way of taking to heart the mystery of the Cross. One expresses in life the things that one has taken to heart. The Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross (or Stations of the Cross) is precisely this: a way of taking to heart the mystery of suffering infused with sacrificial love by which Christ saves us, heals us, and unites us to His work of redemption.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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