We must relearn our devotion to the Cross. It seems too passive to us, too pessimistic, too sentimental – but if we have not been devoted to the Cross of Jesus in our lifetime, how will we endure our own Cross when the time comes for it to be laid upon us? A friend of mine, who depended for years on kidney dialysis and who realized that his life was slipping away from him moment by moment, once told me that as a child, and later as an adult, he had a special devotion to the Way of the Cross and had often prayed it. When he heard the frightening diagnosis of his illness, he was at first stunned; then suddenly the thought came to him: What you have prayed so often has now become a reality in your life; now you can really accompany Jesus; you have been joined to him by his Way of the Cross. In this way, my friend recovered his serenity, which thereafter illuminated his countenance to the end of his days.
– Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
If only we could actuate this right thinking in answering our daily calls, we would widen a spiritual horizon, a vista so beautiful . . . He is asking for patience, that we may come to him who bore all our infirmities without complaint. He is offering an opportunity for meekness and humility, that we may deepen our communication with Jesus, who is meek and humble of heart . . . This is what we mean by “call.” Not a call to do this or to do that, to suffer this or to give up that, but always a call to come to God. Thus we come to pray, “In the hour of my death, call me,” knowing that he will, and for the same reason that he has called me all during my life – that I may come to him . . . When God calls us, it is for a reason, particularly in that dearest final call, which will be made because he just wants to see us. We can help one another remember, by our manner of living, that God has always the same elemental reason for each of his calls, whether in life or death: that we may come to him. This is what we want to do: understand every call.
– Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.
All of us will die on a day we do not know at present, but how happy we will be if we die with our dear Savior in our hearts. Indeed, we must always keep him there, making our spiritual exercises in his company and offering him our desires, resolutions and protests. It is a thousand times better to die with the Lord than to live without him . . . If the death of the Savior is propitious for us, our own death will be a happy one. For this reason we should often think of his holy death, and love his cross and his Passion.
– St. Francis de Sales
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We need silence. We need to be alone or together looking for God in silence. There it is that we accumulate the inward power by which we act, by which we do the smallest duty and by which we suffer the severest hardships that befall us . . . Once I was asked by someone what I consider the most important aspect of the training of the Sisters of our Order. I answered, “Silence,” – interior and exterior silence. Silence is essential in a religious house. The silence of humility, of charity, the silence of the eyes, of the ears, of the tongue. There is no life of prayer without silence. Silence, and then kindness, charity; silence leads to charity, and charity to humility.
– Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Christ, who identified himself with sinners . . .turned to sinners as much as to saints for help. He was grateful for the help of the thief on the cross, the generosity of this derelict, dying man who acknowledged Christ’s goodness when those who knew him well had fled. Even when he was dead, he accepted his tomb, the place where his body should rest, from Nicodemus, the hesitating, careful man who dared only to come to him under cover of darkness. There is no exemption from the love of Christ in one another, or from sharing the cross. There is no moment when, if we meet one whose burden is too heavy, we may delay in helping him to carry it. It is not for those who are good alone to help Christ; it is most of all for sinners, for the weak, the hesitating, even the selfish . . . Every day, hidden under our sins, abject in his need, Christ says to the sinners who put out a hand or speak a word to help him: This day you shall be with me in Paradise.
– Caryll Houselander
We unite with Jesus crucified as we endure the difficulties and hardships of our labor. Underneath our strengths and weaknesses, God’s power is working in and through us. We rest in his power when nothing seems to go right. We accept what happens, do what we can, then step aside and let God take over. . .We are in the best of company when we hand over our reins of control to Jesus. During his time on the cross, Jesus could seemingly not do anything. At that time his life seemed useless, but by being where he was, he redeemed the world.
– Carolyn Humphreys
While we all hear many voices in our lives, it is critical to our spiritual health that we listen first and foremost to the voice of Jesus Christ. The goal of our lives is not to meet the expectations of our parents, friends, spouses, children and others. We are called to follow Jesus Christ and carry out his mission of love, generosity and compassion in this world. Lent is a great time to refocus our attention on Jesus – to listen to him through the teachings of the Church, through scripture, and through our service. Lent is a time to listen through our own experience and to try to discern the voice of God amid all the other voices that we hear each day. And Lent also challenges us to avoid letting any other person or institution take the place of God in our lives. No matter how well intended our friends and family are, they are not God. Jesus is God’s son. The challenge of Lent is to listen to him.
– Bill Peatman
The wilderness or desert, formed the backdrop for the prophets, the Psalms, and the Exodus. John the Baptist preached in the wilderness, and the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. The Spirit urges us to seek time alone with God. Our desert and wilderness can be a meaningless job, chronic illness, a crumbling relationship, or the loss of a loved one. Whatever wilderness we travel into, God is ever inviting us to depend on the love poured out in Jesus. In the midst of the desert, we might grumble and rebel. We might temporarily abandon the God who truly liberates us from our slavery, the God who loves us totally. God understands this rebellion and anger as our attempt to control our own destiny, to call all the shots. God trusts that once we have faced the desert, confronted the reality of our vulnerability, we will rush into the Divine embrace.
– Wayne Simsic
The contemplative life is not a life that offers a few good moments between the many bad ones, but a life that transforms all our time into a window through which the invisible world becomes visible…Contemplative prayer requires that we listen, that we let God speak to us when he wants and in the way he wants. This is difficult for us precisely because it means allowing God to say what we might not want to hear. But if we listen long and deeply, God will reveal himself to us as a soft breeze or a still, small voice; he will offer himself to us in gentle compassion. Without this obedience, this listening to the God of our heart, we will remain deaf and our life will grow absurd.
– Henri Nouwen
Someone must assure us that there is peace beyond anguish, life beyond death, and love beyond fear. It is not difficult to say to one another, “All that is good and beautiful leads us to the glory of God.” However, it is difficult to say with St. Paul: For to you has been granted, for the sake of Christ, not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him (Phil. 1:29). Pure joy and sorrow are no longer opposites, but have become the two sides of the same desire to grow in the fullness of Jesus Christ.
– Father Augustine Moore, O.C.S.O.