Posted tagged ‘love’

Stations of the Cross for Marriage

April 13, 2012

I offered the Stations for marriage this time…

1st Station: Jesus is condemned to death
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world
(at this point in each Station, I kiss the ground,
as I would if I were in Jerusalem, walking the Via Dolorosa–
which is what the Stations are meant to represent)

We point fingers in the wrong direction–
condemning people rather than sin.
Fight the right enemy!
We’re unjust judges,
handing down corrupt decisions (cf. James 2:4)

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

2nd Station: Jesus takes up His Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

We are given burdens to be carried–
precious, priceless burdens to be embraced out of love,
preferred to all others because they come from love.
Love lightens the load
(it’s not heavy–it’s my beloved)

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

3rd Station: Jesus falls the first time
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

We’re limited.
We’re going to fall.
It teaches us compassion for the fallen.
We need to help each other up.
A fall–yours or another’s–is not the end.
It’s part of the process.
Welcome it too!
Don’t let it stop you.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

4th Station: Jesus meets His mother
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Our parents are part of the process too.
They care.
They help in their own way (sometimes it’s painful).
Welcome them too.
You can be sure that St. Joseph would’ve been there too
(and certainly was following everything in spirit with great love!)
The Holy Family is pulling for you.
Acknowledge them.
Love for love.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

5th Station: Simon of Cyrene is forced to help Jesus carry the Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

There’s a sense in which we’re all unequally yoked
–we’re different
unwilling sometimes, unable others.
Still, there’s a grace in working together,
sharing the burden no matter how unjust it maybe.
In the end, justice will win out, despite injustice.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

6th Station: Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Little things make such a big difference!
We need to keep vigil to recognize and meet the little needs
and to appreciate the little kindnesses done for us.
They make love grow stronger on both sides
(inside & outside–we’re one, after all!).
And on the other side,
keep vigil to avoid perpetrating little annoyances
& overlook the ones done to us.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

7th Station: Jesus falls a second time
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Falling isn’t something that only happens once & is gotten out of the way.
Coordinating doesn’t happen all at once.
Failure is progress.
It means you tried, you risked.
And you’re not God…but even God allowed Himself to fall.
You’re better than He?
Turn the humiliation into humility.
Celebrate it, get up, and keep going.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

8th Station: Jesus meets the weeping women of Jerusalem
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

You’ll meet people who just don’t get it.
They’ll praise things that don’t matter (or are downright wrong)
and grieve your successes.
Gently point them to the truth.
Love them in their creaturehood.
Redirect their misguidedness with compassion.
They really are trying.
Credit where it’s due.
But don’t leave them to the error of their ways
to be swept away by destruction!
Then move on.
You’ve got your own mission to fulfill.
Don’t let them stop you.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

9th Station: Jesus falls a third time
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Don’t ever consider yourself “safe” from falls.
Don’t relax your vigilance.
Keep attentive to the end.
You’ll still fall, but you’ll be prepared to handle it.
It ain’t over ’till its over.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

10th Station: Jesus is stripped of His garments
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

You don’t know what’s really you
and what can be, must be, stripped away,
chipped and chiseled away
to fully reveal you.
Marriage is God’s workshop
where that happens.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

11th Station: Jesus is crucified
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Marriage anchors us open.
That’s what it’s for.
Sometimes that hurts.
But it’s love.
It’s what we were made for.
It lifts us up as an example to the world
of what Heaven is all about.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

12th Station: Jesus dies on the Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

“’till death do us part”…and beyond…
Death to self, mortification.
Forgiveness, desire (“I thirst”, John 19:28),
giving of parents, giving of paradise, giving of all.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

13th Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Picking up the pieces,
loving to the end and beyond,
being a burden
but still pouring out our heart

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

14th Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Giving with no thought of return,
emptiness of loss–price of love,
trusting One greater than ourselves to fill the gap.
Stillness.
Abandonment.
Love spilling over in tears that water new gardens of faith.
Hope that endures beyond the grave
and waits to return with coming dawn.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

Stations of the Cross: Sacred Heart Theme

March 16, 2012

This is what came as I prayed the Stations of the Cross
for my dying grandmother during Eucharistic Adoration
in the chapel of the school where my prince teaches:

1st Station: Jesus is condemned to death
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world
(at this point in each Station, I kiss the ground,
as I would if I were in Jerusalem, walking the Via Dolorosa–
which is what the Stations are meant to represent)

“Ecce homo”
“Behold the man”
My Lord, Virgin-born,
the only Man not deserving of condemnation,
I see in You a mirror of what I am–
ripped open by sin,
crowned by my own pride,
condemned with none to take my part–
save You.
Save only You.
Sacred Heart enkindled with love for me…

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

2nd Station: Jesus takes up His Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

You only had thorns.
Now there’s a log on the fire.
How it blazes!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

3rd Station: Jesus falls the first time
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

As logs burn
they fall in great showers of sparks.
Love blazes on

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

4th Station: Jesus meets His mother
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Sacred Heart, Immaculate Heart, Hearts afire-
how the flames mingle and rise higher!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

5th Station: Simon of Cyrene is forced to help Jesus carry the Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Wet wood.
It needs to be dried out before it can catch–but it will…
It cannot stay that close to the fire
without being transformed, however reluctantly.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

6th Station: Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

The smallest response to Love fans the flames,
leaves its mark.
Love finds relief in loving,
even more than in the service received.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

7th Station: Jesus falls a second time
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

As the flames rise, the fuel falls.
It is meant to be consumed.
Se are we–
until all is fire.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

8th Station: Jesus meets the weeping women of Jerusalem
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

If this is the way it is when the wood is green,
what will it be when it’s dry?
If this is the fate of good,
what will be the fate of evil?
Weep not for those who suffer only in this life,
but for those headed for eternal suffering in the next!
Let love ignite your heart now
that you may escape the eternal flames!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

9th Station: Jesus falls a third time
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

In the end, the fire dies to embers.
That’s where the heat resides,
the heart of the fire,
which can do the most good.
Glowing, living, radiant, constant, steady.
The fuel completely transformed into fire.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

10th Station: Jesus is stripped of His garments
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Up to this point the fire’s been enclosed, contained.
The covering is removed.
The whole world exposed to it–to catch fire!
The Blessed Virgin Mary is fanning the flames as they catch!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

11th Station: Jesus is crucified
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Lifted high-
a burning torch of Love to light the way,
light up the world.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

12th Station: Jesus dies on the Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

It looks as though the flame has been snuffed.
We didn’t count on trick birthday cake candles!
This fire only appears to go out.
Yet this is true death, not a trick.
The fire passes into the Father’s hands,
descends to Hades
to burst the prison bars and set the captives free

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

13th Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Remember, man, that you are dust
and to dust you shall return (see Genesis 3:19)
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
Cool enough to handle.
We mourn the loss of the light.
The Immaculate Heart burns on in sorrow…
Blood and water gush forth
from this once-burning Heart
to quench the fires of hell, lust, temptation, anger, greed (etc.)

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

14th Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb
We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Love goes underground,
like the sacred fire hidden by Jeremiah at the time of the exile
(see 2 Maccabees 1:18-35).
The grain of wheat has died, has fallen to the ground,
has been planted.
The earth cannot contain it for long.
It will have a time of dormancy,
but very soon, germination and reproduction.
From a single grain come many grains,
which in turn will fall and die and multiply.
(and ash makes the earth fruitful!)

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on us.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
make my heart like unto Thine!
Let us come back from that sacred table
like lions breathing out fire!

Let us, then, come back from that table [the Eucharist]
like lions breathing out fire,
thus becoming terrifying to the Devil,
and remaining mindful of our Head
and of the love he has shown for us. . .
This Blood, when worthily received,
drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us,
and even summons to us angels and the Lord of angels. . .
This Blood, poured out in abundance,
has washed the whole world clean. . .
This is the price of the world;
by it Christ purchased the Church…
This thought will check in us unruly passions.
How long, in truth,
shall we be attached to present things?
How long shall we remain asleep?
How long shall we not take thought
for our own salvation?
Let us remember what privileges God has bestowed on us,
let us give thanks, let us glorify him,
not only by faith, but also by our very works.
-St. John Chrysostom, Homily 46,
Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist

Up a Tree

October 31, 2010

Zaccheus climbed a tree.

As one who spends her life in long skirts, I can tell you that’s no mean feat in a long, flowing garment such as men commonly wore in those days. Something unusual was going on here.

First of all, climbing trees isn’t all that common in Scripture. I was only able to find one other reference, in the Song of Songs (7:7-8), and that was metaphorical (more on that at the end). This was quite literal.

Zaccheus was up a tree…and not just any tree. He climbed a sycamore tree. According to Strong’s Concordance, in Hebrew, the word for “sycamore” (yacar) is the word for “to chastise.”  Zaccheus climbed the tree of chastisement.  That fits hand-in-glove with the Fathers of the Church who, whenever they see “tree” in Scripture immediately think “cross.” The cross was the tree of chastisement.

“…he is accursed by God that hangs on a tree” (Deuteronomy 21:23).

So…Zaccheus was up a tree. He’d been up a tree spiritually for quite some time. In calling him the “chief tax collector”, Luke might as well have called him the “chief traitor” (milking his own people to pay off the occupying Romans), the “chief sinner” (making his wealth by cheating his own countrymen), in short, the “chief scumbag.”

Now he’s up a tree physically as well…and God’s about to call him down.

“though they climb up to Heaven,
from there I will bring them down”
-Amos 9:2

This is his day of reckoning…and he’s ready for it,
just as God wants him to be.

The other readings from today’s Mass point to this same idea. In Wisdom 11:22-12:1 (and surrounding verses) we read that God gave the cannibalistic, child-sacrificing Canaanites (see Wisdom 5:3-6, Deuteronomy 18:9-12) plenty of time for repentance.

“For You love all things that are
and loathe nothing that You have made;
for what You hated, You would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless You willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by You?

Therefore You rebuke offenders little by little,
warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in You, O Lord!”
-Wisdom 11:24-12:2

God wants us to be prepared for our day of reckoning. He wants that day to go well for us, to be a day of joy and salvation, not a day of penalties and regrets. He goes to great lengths to get our attention, to warn us and to give us time to make things right before it’s too late.

The wicked Canaanites had 40 years of reports about the plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7-12), the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14), the miraculous victories on the journey (Exodus 17:8-15, Numbers 21:1-3, etc.); 40 years to ponder the error of their ways and to repent before the Israelites arrived.

Even when Israelites arrived, there were the incredible tales of their defeat of Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, the king of Bashan…

“Og, king of Bashan, was the last remaining survivor of the Rephaim [giants]. He had a bed of iron, nine regular cubits long and four wide [13.5′ x 6′]” -Deuteronomy 3:11

…the miraculous crossing of the Jordan at flood stage (Joshua 3-4), and the flattening of the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6). Rahab (who did repent, with her family) reports on just how effective these reports were:

“I know that the Lord has given you the land,
that a dread of you has come upon us,
and that all the inhabitants of the land
are overcome with fear of you.
For we have heard how the Lord
dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you
when you came out of Egypt,
and how you dealt with Sihon and Og,
the two kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan,
whom you doomed to destruction.
At these reports, we are disheartened;
everyone is discouraged because of you,
since the Lord, your God,
is God in Heaven above and on earth below”
(Joshua 2:9-11, emphasis mine).

They knew what they had coming!
The difference was in how they responded to that knowledge.

The thing is, nobody knows just when his or her day of reckoning is coming. We all start out “up a tree” as far as sin is concerned, and God is always calling us down. St. Paul tells us not to be upset by rumors and reports of “the day of the Lord,” but rather to live so that the Name of our Lord Jesus is glorified in us, and we in Him. Then we’ll always be ready for our day of reckoning (see II Thessalonians 1:11-2:2).
The timing won’t matter.

When the day of reckoning came for the Canaanites, one family (Rahab’s) was ready. They’d been “up a tree” in sin, but when God called, they responded–and were saved. They united themselves to God’s chosen people (a foreshadowing of the Church), and God Himself took them under His wing. Rahab, in fact, became an ancestress of the Messiah!
(see Matthew 1:1-5)

Getting back to Zaccheus, this Messiah, Who would mount His own tree (the cross), is standing under his tree, calling him by name and inviting Himself to Zaccheus’ house as a guest.

Here the story turns Eucharistic.

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”

Although these aren’t his words, if anyone knew his own unworthiness,
it was Zaccheus!

The quote gives the words we will use in the new translation of the Mass (as of Advent of 2011), words taken almost directly from Matthew 8:8, in which the Roman centurion expresses his faith in Jesus’ ability to cure from a distance. In the Mass, these words express our awareness of our unworthiness to receive our Lord in the Eucharist, and our confidence that He Himself can make us worthy.

Despite our unworthiness, Jesus comes “under our roof”, into our very bodies, just as He proposed to go to Zaccheus house as a guest. Like us, Zaccheus was unworthy…and like us, he didn’t have to stay that way. He “went to Confession” (the equivalent) in front of everybody and promised to make amends (and I imagine that such a public declaration carried with it plenty of accountability!).

That day, Zacheus’ day of reckoning, salvation came to his house.
Jesus, Who had come to seek out and to save what was lost, found him.

When Zaccheus climbed the tree of chastisement, the tree of the cross, to see Jesus, God made of it a tree of life (see Genesis 3:22, Revelation 22:14–another name for the Eucharist), calling him down to a whole new life (the Fathers of the Church suggest that he gave everything away)
–to resurrection.

Here we come back the the Songs of Songs, with the lover “climbing the tree”, “taking hold of its branches” in rapturous union with the beloved (Song of Songs 7:7-8). God is our Lover. We are His beloved. By turning the tree of chastisement (the cross) into the tree of life (the Eucharist) through reconciliation, He made this union with Him possible.

This is God’s way with us. He knows we’re “up a tree.” He loves us too much to leave us there. He gets our attention, calls us by name, warns us and gives us plenty of time to get the message. When we come to Him in repentance (Confession) and turn our lives around, He comes to “stay at our house,” to enter our very being, in holy Communion…a dim foreshadowing of the incomprehensible, eternal union of Heaven. If we refuse Him, then the day of reckoning will catch us off guard, still “up a tree,” self-condemned.

God’s already made clear which outcome He desires.
He is indeed,

“gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness…
good to all and compassionate toward all His works”
-Psalm 145:8-9,

…but He will not force our free will.

Our day of reckoning is coming.
We can be ready for it at any time, if we’ll only choose to be.

It’s up to us.

Will we stay “up a tree,” self-condemned forever?

Or will we change our lives and welcome Jesus into our house
as our soul’s most welcome Guest?


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