The Happy Priest: The Transforming Power of the Cross
Christianity without the Cross is not Christianity at all
Soon Audrey did not survive the illness and the parents were completely distressed. They became bitter recluses, shutting themselves off from their family and friends. But, one night the woman had a dream. She had dreamed that she was in heaven.
During her dream, she saw a long procession of little children processing like little angels before the throne of God. Every child was dressed in a dazzling white robe and they each held a lit candle. However, when the woman saw her Audrey, she noticed that her candle was not lit.
The mother ran up to Audrey, embraced her in her arms, caressed her tenderly, and then asked her how it was that her candle was the only one that was not lit. Audrey said, "Mother, they often relight it, but your tears always put it out."
Just at that moment the woman woke from her dream. The lesson was clear, and its effects were immediate. She immediately told the dream to her husband. They decided to embrace their loss with Christian hope and that they would no longer extinguish Audrey's little candle with their useless tears. (Acknowledgements: http://www.sermonillustrations.com)
My dear friends, this Sunday's liturgy provides motivation and inspiration for us to continue our Lenten program. It is not easy to die to self. However, the gospel account of the transfiguration of Jesus tells us that our cross will always lead to the transformation of our lives.
There are three transfigurations or transformations that take place in our journey towards eternity.
The first change begins at Baptism. The immersion into the baptismal waters symbolizes death and rebirth. The Sacrament of Baptism washes away Original Sin and we are re-created. We are transformed into new creatures. The old self dies and the new person in Christ Jesus is born.
Our new life, which begins at Baptism, is carried out through our daily living of the Gospel. This of course, demands a continual dying to self. Through self-denial, the image of Christ is made visible in our lives. The more we die to self, the more sanctifying grace can transform our lives.
The second transformation takes place by our victory over the trials and tribulations of life. Every challenge, every difficulty, every moment of suffering, is an opportunity to grow. Transformation only takes place through suffering.
A young friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer when he was nineteen years old. He died two years latter. Nevertheless, his acceptance of this challenge and the manner in which he embraced his daily suffering not only transformed his life, but it transformed the lives of those who were closest to him.
One day after he returned from a long week of treatments at the hospital, his dad suggested that before returning home, they stop by their parish and pray the Stations of the Cross together. The father told his son that contemplating how much Jesus had suffered for them would be important, particularly in their present trial. Both father and son had understood the transforming power of the Cross of Jesus.
The third transformation takes place at death. The suffering that the final moment brings upon us makes way for an amazing transformation. Eternal life in heaven, perhaps after a period of further transformation in purgatory, is granted to those who have been found worthy. The last transformation or transfiguration is completed at the Second Coming when our body is reunited with our soul. What awaits us is beyond anything that we can imagine.
"Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, 'new heavens and a new earth.' It will be the definitive realization of God's plan to bring under a single head all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth. The visible universe, then, is itself destined to be transformed, so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just, sharing their glorification in the risen Jesus Christ" (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1043, 1047).
When we consider the eschatological teachings of the Catholic Church, we can understand why the Easter liturgy cries out "O felix culpa." "O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer" (Exsúlet - The Easter Proclamation from the Easter Vigil Liturgy).
The transfiguration of the Lord reminds us of the outcome of the cross. Suffering brings about transformation when we carry the cross like true disciples of Jesus.
Each of us has a cross to carry. We must all identify our crosses and carry them with patience, joy and love. Why complain about something which is our means to gain eternal life?
As Thomas a' Kempis reminds us, "The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you will -- above, below, without, or within -- you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown.
If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one" (The Imitation of Christ, Book II, chapter 12).
"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them" (Mark 9: 2-3).
The transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor tells us that the glory of the resurrection will only take place through the sufferings of Good Friday. The transfiguration of Jesus teaches us that the experience of the cross is necessary in order for Easter to take place. However, too many of our contemporaries are like those who stood at the foot of the Cross and cried out to Jesus that he should come down from the Cross. Many would like to have a Christianity without self-denial, discipline and renunciation. However, Christianity without the Cross is not Christianity at all.
What is your cross? Maybe you have many crosses to carry. How do you carry your cross? Do you complain? Are you discouraged? Do you run away from the cross?
There is only one way to carry your cross. Carry your cross with generosity. Carry your cross with patience, love and joy. See in your cross your sanctification, your eternal salvation.
Understand that with your cross, united to the cross of Jesus, you have a continual opportunity to save souls and make reparation for so many sins.
Father James Farfaglia, the Happy Priest, is the pastor of Saint Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas and is a member of the Board of Directors of Human Life International. Father has a hard hitting blog called Illegitimi non carborundum. He has also published a book called Man to Man: A Real Priest Speaks to Real Men about Marriage, Sexuality and Family Life. You can click here for the audio podcast of this Sunday homily. His second book, Get Serious! will be available soon. You can visit Father James on the web at www.FatherJames.org.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees: That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
- 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
- Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
- Lent is almost over, but have YOU kept this Commandment?
- 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
- Holy Thursday: Take Up the Basin and Towel. Love is a Verb.
- Holy Thursday: He Loves to the End
- 2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package. It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning ...Continue Reading
Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »
Warning from the king
Saudi king warns that IS is targeting U.S., Europe
Mark of the Beast
Scientists debate ethics of microchips in people
World cannot keep silent
Patriarchs convene about persecution by IS
'Miracle' drug ZMapp found helpful against Ebola
Cardinal Vegliò speaks
World has not done enough to stop massacre
Ecuador goes digital
Move may do away with U.S. currency
Mass graves discovered of missing people
Senegal hit by Ebola
Student from Guinea became nation's first patient
ISIS in Mexico?
Officials deny plans of car bombing on U.S. soil
Fleeing imminent death
Three million Syrians now in neighboring nations
Many get to stay
Only 280 illegal kids deported; all other staying
Google experimenting with drone delivery for goods
Sold into slavery
Yazidis women sold by IS to be sex slaves, wives
Ebola outbreak grows
'Road map' draw in order to contain virus spread
Study reveals Ebola outbreak worse than thought