the Cross

Mercy requires courage

Mercy requires courage. Without courage, we can have pity, but not mercy. It takes the courage to open yourself to another’s wounds, and to be vulnerable yourself.

Without vulnerability, we may be a benefactor, but we can’t be a Christian. We must share our brothers and sisters’ wounds, all of their hurts and failings and sins, understanding them and uniting them with our own, and so with Jesus’. 

Jesus suffered, to give Himself to us. He is utterly vulnerable, so that we can approach Him with all of our weakness and wounds. His wounds speak to ours, and replace fear with love.

We killed Jesus because of His mercy. His heart was open to all, and so He suffered with all the suffering, and was oppressed with all the oppressed. He never took sides, not even–so it seemed–God’s.

Jesus knows you, with all of your pain, and He loves you. He feels your pain more than you yourself, especially the pain of sin,  and He loves you in it. We have no reason to hide from Him.

Jesus detests sin because it hurts Him when it hurts us, and above all because it separates us, His beloved, from Him. He can’t stand being apart from us. It drives Him crazy. 

That’s why He can’t stand us judging each other. He can’t take us pushing people away from Him. Especially when we claim to do so in God’s name. 

We must surrender to His merciful love. We must let Him love us in and through our wounds, our sins. Then these are transformed. Our wounds and sins become a holy place, the place where we find God. And then, with our vulnerability, our wounds, and the love of God in them, we can bring His merciful love to others. 

Mercy requires the courage to take up the cross. It will be painful. It may get you killed. You will be exposed and vulnerable and mocked and attacked, even by the very people you suffer with and for.

But mercy is true life. Mercy transforms the world. Jesus’ mercy conquers the grave, turning death to life.
God bless you! 

I showed Jesus my wounds

At yesterday’s Good Friday liturgy, I rolled up my sleeves for the first time this year. So what? Well, my left forearm has some scars on it, and in these scars, open wounds on my mind and soul are visible.

In rolling up my sleeves, I wasn’t just responding to the beautiful weather; I was bringing my wounds, and so myself, before Jesus crucified. He is wounded to enter my wounds, He died to enter my death. He is naked before us: how could I hide myself from Him?

We have to let Jesus enter into us, through our wounds, our sins and our death. How? Through faith in Him and through His holy sacraments. In these, Jesus comes to us in our sins, our struggles, and our suffering, and brings us His life that conquers death.

When we give these up to Him, and let Him enter into them, something mysterious occurs. As He touches them with His mercy, He fills and transforms them with His self-sacrificial love, and in doing so, we find them united to His Holy Cross. Our wounds are united to His.

And His wounds have been glorified by His resurrection from the dead.

 

God bless you, and Happy Easter!
He is risen!

san-damiano-cross

I love the San Damiano cross. Jesus’ arms are open wide in a priestly gesture, of offering, gift, and welcome. The Cross is an act of love and freedom.

Me and the Cross

I don’t really talk much about my own life here, and certainly not about my mental health. Suffice to say for now, that it feels like its falling apart; like everything I have relied on and hoped for is being lost before my eyes.

And it serves me right. Why? Because I literally asked for it. It was for a long time my prayer, and still is, that God humble me completely. I guess I just didn’t see it looking like this…

As my “everything” seemingly falls apart (I suspect and hope the situation in many ways isn’t as bad as it sometimes feels), I see that I’ve been trusting and hoping in things that aren’t God. And that’s the way to certain disappointment. Yes, I was hoping in God too, but not in God alone.

When I reached my recent lowest, I felt and believed that all that I have and I am is nothing, that all that I have and I am is completely worthless and useless. What could anyone possibly want with me? What could God ever do with this?

But this is pride. To suppose that my weakness– my nothingness– limits God in any way, is madness.

‘Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.’
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

I look to the cross, and I see that God isn’t victorious by strength, but by faith and obedience. It is in Christ crucified, and in Him alone, that I am to place my trust. It is by dying to self, living in reckless sacrificial love, in union with His holy cross, that I am to live and serve God.

‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.’
Philippians 3:10-11

So here’s me. However much or little (or nothing) I am, I am God’s, and that is all I need. I’m not called to be strong or talented or valuable, but merely faithful; the victory is His concern, not mine: how could I ever achieve resurrection?

I just hope and pray God lets me remember and accept this when I really need to.

God bless you
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P.S. I feel I should also mention, that a part of this feeling of losing everything was the loss of my supposed righteousness when I fell to a certain sin. Thank God I lost this illusory righteousness. I am a sinner, and my only justification is God’s love for me.

I have no righteousness, but I share in Jesus’ own. I have no life in me, except His.

God bless you again

Looking sin in the eye

‘1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbour caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”

‘1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.” Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,” knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.” In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.’
–Catechism of the Catholic Church 1849-50

I wanted to write about sin, so I looked it up, and I was not disappointed. The Catechism is a bit lofty and distant, but in that very way it has such beauty. I don’t say much about sin on this blog. It makes me uncomfortable. But I believe it is good to take a better look at sin, since it’s lent. Here, then, are my reflections:

Sin is separation from God; that is, sin is separation from the deepest Source of all things, and so is separation from all things. There is no harmless sin. Sin cuts us off from everything in existence, including ourselves. Sin is death.

Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it.’ Sin blinds us to God’s love, which is in fact the truth of all things. The whole world and everyone within it look ever more dead and cold, and as such more like objects to be used for ourselves.

Sin is when our will is set against God’s will, which is Himself. God’s will is not a matter of choosing one thing over another like our wills so often are. God’s will is life and love itself. Disobeying God isn’t just proud, it’s absurd. We choose what won’t last, and wouldn’t satisfy even if it did, over life itself! We try to be “gods”, but in doing so, we make the lives we are “gods” over, as pointless and futile as our small-minded desires.

Sin is both the action of separating ourselves from God, by an act of the will, and the resulting state of being separated from Him, in our wills and our living experience. When Jesus was upon the cross, he “became sin”, by truly experiencing the separation from God that is the wages of sin. But he was also perfectly without sin, completely obedient to God, even in this separation from God. He brought righteousness to sin, and brought God to Godlessness.

 

‘1851 It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate’s cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas’ betrayal – so bitter to Jesus, Peter’s denial and the disciples’ flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly.’
–Catechism of the Catholic Church 1851

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This lent, let us turn ever more fully from sin in all its forms, to the Lord Jesus Christ our redeemer. Amen

God bless you!

Broken saviour for broken souls

I see more and more clearly, that I am broken, and it’s scaring me. But I also see, that I have a broken saviour.
Why the God-man? Why the cross? Because God heard our cry, and saw our wounds, and dived in.
He did not come in strength, to impose goodness from outside; nothing can be truly fixed from outside itself. Instead, he came as one of us, as one of the oppressed. He came to be broken with us, for us, and to us. To give us his life, and that we may give our lives with him and through him.
That we should find his life in our death, and that we may die with him, the death in love that brings resurrection.
He fills our brokenness, our death, our poverty, with the life that is love, the love that is sacrifice, the sacrifice that means resurrection.
By the cross, Jesus is there in suffering, to bring us love, and that we may suffer in love with him, in humble and hopeful obedience to God, united to his cross, and so his resurrection.
Jesus did not die on the cross so that we don’t have to. He did not die to misdirect divine retribution. He died, to fill all the suffering and brokenness and sin in the world, to unite it to himself, to envelop it in the love of God, in the life of God, and to offer it to God.
He died, not to conquer these things from the outside, or to complete any transaction involving them, but to embrace them completely , and thus radically transform them.

And so, I am broken. But Jesus is broken with me, and in me. And I let him have my brokenness and weakness. I offer it through him, and with him, and in him, to God the almighty Father.

God bless you

“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God; that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

Why lord?

‘Many of you have asked the Lord – why lord? And to each of you, to your heart, Christ responds with his heart from the cross. I have no more words for you. Let us look to Christ. He is the lord. He understands us because he underwent all the trials that we, that you, have experienced. And beside the cross was his Mother. We are like a little child in the moments when we have so much pain and no longer understand anything. All we can do is grab hold of her hand firmly and say “Mommy”  – like a child does when it is afraid. It is perhaps the only words we can say in difficult times – “Mommy”.’

-Pope Francis

(from the his mass for the typhoon survivors at Tacloban, in the Philippines. Here’s the full thing)