O Cross of Christ, Immortal Tree

Lent has come early this year. It seems we have only begun cuddling the Infant Jesus and already He is journeying to Jerusalem. Is it just me or does anyone else shudder at the thought of the Lenten Season? 40 days & 40 nights……penance…..fasting…..suffering……shuddering….   I know someone who was educated in a school with Nuns. She told us that it seemed like they were always talking about suffering – “embrace your cross! Offer it up!” She heard it so much (without really understanding it) that as she matured into adulthood she embraced the culture of pleasure instead. Like the rest of us, she was frightened by the cross and seduced by the lie that we can live just fine without it. I heard a quote from Bishop Fulton Sheen recently. It went something like this:

The majority of the modern world has divorced Christ from His Cross. The western world wants Jesus but without His Cross. The Eastern world (especially communistic countries) want the Cross but without the Christ.

How true? Look around us. For a couple of years now we’ve been reading about the “heroine epidemic” where hundreds of our young brothers and sisters are throwing away their lives in an attempt to avoid the pain of the day. But they aren’t the only ones trying to escape it.  How many of us reach for the tylenol at the onset of any pain?  According to statistics, the USA is responsible for 80% of prescription pain pills and over 250 million prescriptions were given out in the USA just last year!  This is not including over-the-counter drugs. They even make massage therapy equipment now that “guarantees” freedom from pain! It sounds promising. So, why suffer when the world offers ways to fix it, to mask it,  and to numb it?  After all, didn’t Jesus come to take that all away? Haven’t we heard the “prosperity” Gospel?

I think this is where we find ourselves when Lent comes around…and out of obedience we “give something up” and we put ourselves on the opposite side of the spectrum: trying to embrace the cross without the Christ.  And THAT is why the Lenten Season is so difficult for us. We cannot face – let alone embrace – suffering… and especially the suffering of the Cross without the Christ.

So now what? Now, we have to relearn what it’s all REALLY about. The point of our lives is union with God…. and this union is brought about through LOVE… and LOVE is proven through sacrifice.. through suffering. I read recently that in the early Church (around 694 until the 10th century) that Crucifixes all depicted a suffering Christ on the Cross. It was not until the 10th century that Crucifixes were permitted to have an image of Jesus dead on the Cross. As I prayed about this I thought, “maybe it’s because in the early Church they had more of an understanding of the reality of His Passion.” Meaning – in TIME Jesus died on the Cross and He rose again and ascended into Heaven… but in the TIMELESSNESS of God; in the permanence of the One Act of Salvation; in the Reality of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass— Christ is STILL mystically suffering…isn’t that what He manifests to us during Eucharistic miracles: a living, suffering Heart? He is continuously PROVING HIS LOVE to us… and asking us (as we ask our closest friends) to receive and to reciprocate that love. We become like that which we love… and if we truly love our suffering Savior.. then we seek to share that suffering with Him. Like Mother says, “I’d rather be on the Cross with Christ, than on a cruise without Him.”

Lent is a beautiful time where we are again reminded of the meaning of life and its shortness and we are given the opportunity to detach from all that hinders us from that ultimate goal. St. John of the Cross speaks of the soul as a house. For those who are in the state of grace, God is living in the center of that house. The windows of the house are the senses and when they are open – the light from outside makes it difficult to see the God Who is dwelling within. Lent helps us to close those windows of the senses – through penance, sacrifice, and prayer – participating and uniting with the Passion of Christ AND, in the process, finding God… finding a deeper, more intimate union with God.

I leave you with one last quote. Mother Agnes of Jesus, who was prioress of the Carmel of Lisieux, and St. Therese’s blood sister said, “Like the disciples of Emmaus we must beg Him to ‘stay with us, Lord’… and I think He will smile and show us the Cross that is always with Him, and will tell us, ‘My children, while many invite Me, few keep Me, for many love Me without the Cross. But few will allow Me to erect it in their hearts, and I cannot make My dwelling with them. Love finds Me, but only suffering keeps Me.’”

May this Lent be for us an efficacious one – uniting us with Christ and with His Cross…. the narrow gate that leads to life.

The Subtlety of God

O how I tried to change that writing to the left: Hastening the Eucharistic Reign!  It needs to be bold, dark, big!  Then all of a sudden, it hit me–literally.  As I pondered this “dilemma” of pre-designed templates, I was torpedoed in the head by a stink bug.  Every year our chapel has some sort of plague: hornets, lady bugs, bats.  This year it’s stink bugs.  They are bold and it takes an extremely recollected mind not to react like a frightened child when, in chapel, they speed bomb you; or to stay focused on our Eucharistic Lord enthroned on the altar as they climb to the peak of the Monstrance–claiming themselves as king.  As it flew at my head it suddenly dawned on me–the subtleties of God.  His ways are not like our ways!  How different He is from the world in which we live.  See, I’m like that bug.  I want to take things by force and I want to do it now.  But this isn’t how God works.  As the midnight hour of Christmas approaches I realize that the greatness of God, the power of God, the glory of God, comes forth in gentle silence.  The hiddenness of the Incarnation, the quiet of the midnight cave, the monotony of the life at Nazareth, the meekness of the Lamb on Calvary, the gentleness of the Resurrection, the hush of the Consecration–Our God’s greatest acts are done in silence, in smallness.  And so too with the Eucharistic Reign.  The world is filled with noise and entertainment, but the secrets of the King are whispered in the hearts of those who await Him.  It reminds me of Blessed Anna of St. Bartholomew (the inseparable companion of St. Teresa of Avila).  When she was young, the child Jesus would visit her but, usually, He wouldn’t speak to her audibly.  A Divine Smile would lay upon His Lips and inside Anna’s heart she would hear His Voice.

So, let the writing to the left be little and light.  Perhaps it is only written for those who will look for it.  Think of all the people who encountered our Lady with God in Her Womb, all of the people who passed by without even noticing.  And then there was Joseph.  Blessed Catherine Emmerich describes St. Joseph looking upon Mary as Moses gazing upon the burning bush.  For those who aren’t searching, the silence is deafening–unbearably long.   But for those who are attentive, the silence is majestic, captivating.  The Eucharistic Reign will come and is, in fact, coming right now, one heart at a time.


As St. John the Baptist spoke to the Pharisees, so, too, he speaks to the people of our time saying, “there has stood One in the midst of you, whom you know not.”  Jesus stands in our midst daily–perpetually–on our altars and in our tabernacles!  But, sadly, the majority know Him not.  We must prepare the way with silence, suffering, humility, intercession, reparation, and above all, love.


The Eucharistic Reign must be hastened as Our Lady hastened His first coming.  Today as I knelt in the back of the chapel, I could see all of my Sisters kneeling before Our Lord with arms outstretched in the form of a Cross as they silently prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  I thought to myself, “This is it!  This is hastening the Eucharistic Reign!”  It’s not in force or in show.  No, those are the tactics of the enemy, as we saw in the desecration of our Eucharistic Lord at the art exhibit in Spain or the sacrilege against our Blessed Mother Ever-Virgin in Oklahoma .


“By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.” Isaiah 30:15


Hasten the day Thy Kingdom come 
where conquered hearts that once were numb        
will risk their lives in efforts just to be near You!