Go in the footsteps of Christ, He is your end, your way and also your prize. Life is a journey, certainly. But it is not an uncertain journey without a fixed destiny; it leads to Christ, the end of human life and history. On this journey you will meet with him who gave his life for love, and opens to you the doors of eternal life. (Pope Benedict XVI to the Madrid youth)
The 40 days of Lent is leading to a dramatic climax in our
liturgical imagination: the prayer, fasting, almsgiving is pointing us directly
to what we’ve been promised and hoped for–salvation. These days of Lent offered
us an entrée into the Divine Mystery and yet I fear that a great many people,
including myself–may not have heard Jesus’ prophetic rebuke of the Pharisees
and others for their errors and for their self-righteousness and have missed
the essential purpose of our Lord’s sharp words. Certainly hearing Peter deny
Christ three times indicates that same tendency in us to stand back from that
which is life-giving. In the Scriptures we heard at Mass and in the Divine
Office we hear the Lord not condemning the people for love of God’s Law but
calling them to follow him more closely and in doing so enter more deeply into
the spirit of the Law. Christ makes it clear that living in the Kingdom of God
requires us to be sacrificial: to turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.
Here is the certainty we have: to follow Christ entails self-denial and the
acceptance of his cross as ours. No embrace of the cross, no life eternal.
In early February, I mentioned the notion, the desire, perhaps even the ministry women can do for the spiritual wellbeing of priests. It is an idea that is growing in the Church and yet its importance is not being recognized by many bishops. However, Bishop Edward Slattery, bishop of Tulsa, inaugurated a work of spiritual maternity for priests in the Tulsa diocese on March 24th. The good part of this work is the on-going formation. Father Mark Kirby writes about it on his blog.
We know by experience that we have not sufficient strength in ourselves to bring to a successful completion our chief Lenten duty, which is to die fully to sin in order to live fully in the risen Christ. But Christ himself, before leaving his own, prayed to his Father to preserve them from evil and from the evil one (John ) – from the seductions of the world and the attacks of Satan.
He had taught them to ask: lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew ). Obviously he did not intend that his disciples be spared every kind of temptation and danger, for this would be impossible in this life; besides, God himself permits it to test our virtue, but he wanted to assure them sufficient strength to resist. The evil from which he desired to free them was sin, the only real disaster, because it separates us from God.
Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.