Posted tagged ‘suffering’

Mistaken Identity

October 31, 2015

JMJ

All too often, we’re afraid of God.

A lady recently remarked that when she actually registered
what she was saying in the Our Father,
“Thy will be done”,
she was scared to say it for a year!

I identify.

I mean, what if He takes me up on it?
What if His will is something perfectly dreadful–
like letting me suffer?

But then I thought about it.

Who is the accuser? (Revelation 12:9-10)
Who wants our condemnation?
Who wants our destruction? (I Peter 5:8)
Who interprets everything in the worst possible light? (Job 1:9-11, 2:4-5)

It’s not our Heavenly Father!

GodTheFather

He’s the One saying proudly,
“Have you seen My servant?!”
(Job 1:8, 2:3),
not letting the devil get away
with his smear campaign,
but showing up his lies
by our victory over him.

It’s the devil’s will
(and our own!)
that’s the really frightful one!

When we’re afraid of God,
what we’re doing
is putting the divine Name
on the devil–
which is exactly what he’s always wanted!
(Isaiah 14:13-14)

The more clearly I see,
the more I flee to,
cling to,
the will of God
as my last hope of salvation.

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Jesus Wouldn’t Drink The Drugged Cup

May 19, 2014

Jesus had a cup to drink.

You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink of the cup I am to drink of?
~Matthew 20:22

Father, if it is Your will, take this cup from Me;
yet not My will but Yours be done.
~Luke 22:42

So do we.

From the cup I drink of, you shall drink
~Matthew 20:23

He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them.
“All of you must drink from it,” He said,
“for this is My Blood, the Blood of the covenant,
to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.”
~Matthew 26:27-28

But there are cups…and cups.

they tried to give Him wine drugged with myrrh,
but He would not take it
~Mark 15: 23

The world will always offer us a drugged cup.
It comes in many forms
(whatever earthly thing you turn to for relief).
Ultimately it degrades us.

Jesus refused to drink the drugged cup.
It wasn’t His cup.

It isn’t ours either.

Lord, deliver me from the drugged cup!

Stations of the Cross: Faithfulness Under Fire

October 26, 2012

I offered the Stations for a leader
who was suffering for implementing Truth…

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)

Jesus stood firm in the face of accusation, condemnation.
He didn’t lash out. He didn’t back down.
He stood His ground,
exemplifying what He taught about turning the other cheek,
giving your cloak and tunic, going the extra mile.
He’s trustworthy.
He means what He says.
He doesn’t change with the tide of public opinion.
You can count on Him.

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

Jesus doesn’t make idle threats.
He knows the consequences of His choices
and is fully prepared to embrace them,
to follow through for our sake.
He has courted the cross.
Now He embraces its weight.

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

God doesn’t limit Himself to success.
It’s much easier to only take on things you know you can handle,
things over which you have control.
God takes on all sinners,
knowing that with some He will fail–
they will cast themselves into hell
despite all His efforts to rescue them.
He could just leave them to their own devices,
but He doesn’t.
He gives them the freedom to make a failure of Him.

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

Those who love
suffer when their loved ones see them suffer.
Jesus knew His suffering would redound on His Blessed mother,
and it broke His Heart to put her through that,
but He would not let Himself be blackmailed by that suffering either.
He would be true as an arrow, come what may.

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

The suffering continues to rebound on others.
Mary was willing.
Simon was not.
Blame pressed upon the Just One-
“See how Your stubbornness is causing all these people to suffer?
Are You proud of Yourself for instigating all this oppression and pain?!
You’ve got to back down now, You cad!”
But Jesus can see higher and deeper than this.
He knows the price of capitulation
-for all involved-
and the rewards of redemption.
He will not be swayed.

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

We’ve seen what God will not give
-He won’t change truth to suit our desires-
but that doesn’t mean His hands are closed.
Quite the contrary.
To those open to receive
He gives more than we could ask or imagine-
His very self.

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

“Souls are falling into hell like snowflakes” (message of Fatima)
Souls are falling, falling, falling into sin.
While there’s life, there’s hope-we can repent and go on.
But we are not guaranteed another breath.
The falls of Jesus cry urgently:
“Repent and be saved!”

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

It’s stressful to deal with weeping women,
with those whose reason is clouded by emotional distress,
but our Savior wades right in and speaks truth.
He redirects their distress toward a constructive end:
“Weep for yourselves and for your children!”

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

[The man of faith] has no trouble
subordinating all his projects and hopes
to the unfathomable designs
of a God who often uses failure even better than success
to bring about the good of souls.
– Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, O.C.S.O.
The Soul of the Apostolate

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

Stripped-of everything.
Every shred of human dignity, of respect, of honor, torn away.
Nothing left but base contempt and condemnation.
Still He remains faithful,
for He cannot, will not deny Himself.
You can’t change Truth
(thank God!)

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

It’s amazing how far man is capable of going
-how far I am capable of going-
with passions unchecked.
To dare to crucify God!
But surely God wouldn’t let Himself be crucified (would He?!)
-must be an imposter (so we’re justified in crucifying Him).
How abysmally we underestimate the power of God.
How tragically we apply to Him our own vices,
He Whose weakness so far surpasses our greatest power;
Whose folly surpasses our most sublime wisdom.
Holy is the Lord!

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 is His generosity that resists our greed,
His boundless love that restrains our hostility.
He will not leave us to our own lusts.
He’s dying to deliver us from ourselves.

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

Divine strength is made perfect in weakness,
in dependence on others to empty the cross of its precious load.
God shares the credit as He shares the crime.

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

He’s done His part.
He’s shown the way.
It’s up to us now-with Him living within us,
equipping us to do what He has done.
There are things worth dying for…
principally SOULS.

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

“Take It On”

July 29, 2011

The phrase “offer it up” has been around for a long time. Properly understood, it’s a powerful way of turning “trash” into spiritual treasure, cooperating with God in His mission to make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) and to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). To “offer it up,” is to unite my sufferings with Jesus’ sufferings on the Cross, especially in the Mass, which is a participation in Jesus’ eternal sacrifice–the only sacrifice with supernatural saving power. By uniting my sufferings to Jesus’ I participate in the release of grace into the world, in the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of souls. That’s powerful! And it gives my suffering meaning and purpose.

Without disparaging any of that, my reading and pondering our identity as members of the Body of Christ (see I Corinthians 12, among others) has suggested an additional perspective.

In the Passion, Jesus’ Body suffered. His back was scourged, His shoulder bore the weight of the cross, His hands and feet were pierced, His Heart was thrust through. As a member of Jesus’ Body, I can expect to share His suffering. Perhaps today I’m His shoulder, weighed down by a heavy burden. Or maybe I’m His hand, pierced and bleeding. Whatever the case, if I am to remain in union with Him I need to “take it on”.

When we suffer, there’s a sense in which we’re like Simon of Cyrene, forced to pick up a cross. We can do so unwillingly, or we can choose to “take it on.”

There is a natural human response to want to absorb the suffering of one we love. “Oh, if only I could take that suffering for you.” Jesus fulfills that longing. He doesn’t leave us as helpless spectators on the outside looking in. No, we can’t substitute for Christ. But we can unite with Him. We can suffer in Him and with Him as members of His Body in communion with Him.

The sense in which we “offer it up” is the sense in which we realize that it’s not our suffering, but His. The sense in which we “take it on” is the sense in which we take our place as members of the Body of Christ in His Passion.

This ties in directly with the distinction between
a “replacement sacrifice” versus a “representative sacrifice”:

The history of man and his religion
is the story of his efforts to reunite himself with the divine.
To bring about this reunion, man offers a gift to the gods,
but in the end realizes that nothing less
than the gift of himself will suffice.
And insofar as man is not usually willing
to offer his complete self to the deity,
he searches to find a gift, an offering,
a sacrifice that “represents” himself.
A true representative gift
is one in which the giver is in some way present in his gift;
in this way the gift truly represents man
in his attempt to give himself to God.
Not all gifts, however, can be classified in this way,
for in some gifts man is not present in the offering.
These gifts are called by Cardinal Ratzinger
“replacement gifts,”
where the offerer is not present in his gift,
even though on the surface he believes himself to be
(Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p36).
The distinction, then, is this:
the “representative sacrifice”
truly symbolizes man’s genuine and heartfelt desire
to give himself over, to unite himself to God,
to divinize himself:  in a word, to “sacrifice.”
The “replacement sacrifice,” on the contrary,
is a mere empty sign or gesture
of man’s supposed desire for reunion;
the replacement sacrifice is a replacement of man,
and “worship with replacement
turns out to be a replacement for worship.
Somehow the real thing is missing”
(Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p36).
It is these latter sacrifices
that the prophets seek to correct.
-Christopher Carstens & Douglas Martis,
Mystical Body, Mystical Voice:
Encountering Christ
in the Words of the Mass, p21

When we “take on” suffering as members of the Body of Christ,
we are present in our sacrifice,
in our offering to God.
It brings us into communion with Him,
the union with the divine for which we were created.
It fulfills our destiny.

In addition, it builds up the Body of Christ.
We are not only united to the Head (Jesus–see Ephesians 5:23), but to all the other members as well, throughout time and eternity. When we “take it on,” we never suffer alone, nor are the effects of our suffering limited to ourselves. A “great cloud of witnesses” cheers us on (see Hebrews 12:1).

In my own sufferings (small and not so small),
I’m learning to both “offer it up”, and “take it on.”


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