March 2015 - Ave, O Crux, Spes Unica
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
By veiling the cross of the altars, the Church dresses in mourning. She thus hopes that her children, sharing in her suffering, will in turn enter into the feelings that animated Christ Jesus on the eve of His Passion. She knows and teaches that the coming holy days are true sources of graces; but she also knows that we are hardly ready to receive them and to make them bear fruit. Indeed, wounded by original sin, weakened by our own faults, our nature remains profoundly selfish: it instinctively rejects suffering and recoils in horror from the least obstacle to its desires. On the other hand, it listens with a willing ear to the call of the world exciting hedonism and despising renouncement, suffering and, consequently, the cross.
The cross is the most beautiful and richest ornament of the Church. But it is usually difficult for man, and even for the baptized soul, to perceive it thus. The cross, the Cross of God, of the Savior, is generally seen as an instrument of torment which opposes the realization of the most cherished desires. When it is observed from far away, or when it is a question of exalting it in a vague way, making a theoretical praise of it, candidates abound. But when it suddenly becomes incarnated, when it assumes the features of any concrete difficulty, an accident, an illness or a slight contradiction, very few see God’s cross in this obstacle to their sometimes expensive and lengthily elaborated projects. Therefore, few souls find true happiness.
Happiness is the fruit of the cross, not the cross itself. To focus on the cross and its asperities would be an error: the cross is and will remain a suffering. But it is the means, the single means chosen by God to unite the Church with her divine Bridegroom and to give souls to Christ and Christ to souls. The victory song of the liturgy, rising up every day of Passiontide at Vespers, in the evening calm, acquires then all its meaning: Ave, o Crux, spes unica. Unique hope because it is the only one that gives Christ to us. This victory song is the song of happiness.
The fact that the Church is today crucified as it is wounds our hearts of children. But the souls of the baptized, who see in this painful trial a new proof of the love of Christ for His Bride, must rejoice in this spirit of victorious happiness. The same applies to us, when the cross weighs too heavily on our shoulders.
And to obtain an understanding and love of the cross, there is no better school than the contemplation of Christ, who during His whole life kept present in His heart the cross, His cross, this cruel gibbet on which one day He would voluntarily, freely, lay down His sacred members. He knows that this trial is the proof of the love of the Father for Him and the unique opportunity of answering this love by His own.
Also Christ, aside from the legitimate fear that would find its climax in the Garden of Olives, kept His soul always loving and joyful. His life was fruitful because He was certain He would be hung on the gibbet of the cross and thus become the marvelous fruit that would cure men of their miseries and, most especially, would give back to the Father the glory that belongs to Him in all justice. The sentiments of Christ Jesus were those of a victorious and serene soul, happy to be loved
and to love.
Then, which are the dispositions of our souls on the eve of these holy days? Do we have the same elevation of soul as Christ? Do we keep our souls safe from the fear and the cowardly reservations that prevent us from following Christ in His perspectives of eternity? Will we be satisfied to pity His fate for the short time of a ceremony, only to fall down heavily again on the ground of our proud illusions? Shouldn’t we turn to Him in these holy days to ask for the grace of understanding that there is no other way than the cross to love and imitate Him? To admit finally that only the cross brings us back to Christ? To discover that the crosses of the present life avenge the honor for God and restore the bond between Him and men?
The crosses are the most just manifestations of hope that elevate our human hearts and place them in the orbit of the Divine Heart.
Sursum corda. It is time now to follow Him, to take at every moment the cross that He presents to us, to be able to choose joyfully each opportunity that Christ offers to us and to let Him shape our souls according to the measure of His own soul.
Thus lived, these holy days will then constitute the prelude of Easter and of the final victory. Isn’t Easter also a fruit of the cross?
Ave, o Crux, spes unica.
In Christo sacerdote et Maria,
Fr. Yves le Roux