Javascript Redirect

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Holy Cross: "That the world might be saved through him"

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Luke 9:23-24.

A coworker came to my office yesterday excited by the news that the Church was revisiting clerical celibacy. He was, of course, profoundly misinformed by the secular media. NBCNews especially botched their reporting of comments made by the new Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin. Reporter F. Brinley Bruton thought that the archbishop was breaking new ground, which, of course he was not. 

Putting to one side the details of this latest mainstream media misstep, the conversation with my friend and coworker allowed me to point to an image on my wall calendar—an image of the Cross. I did so because as I explained the purposes of clerical celibacy I was speaking about the Gospel of sacrifice that the world would rather do without.

And so there we were, two environmental regulators, pondering the Cross of Jesus Christ. And really, the Cross is a topic that environmentalists must be comfortable embracing.

This particular September 14th, as the Church celebrates the annual Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we find the world worried over war in the political sphere and equally worried over humanity's sustained war against nature. As seen from the Data Series interviews so far (here, here, here, and here), man is inflicting unprecedented harm on creation and it will not be easily undone.

What Catholic ecologists seek to bring to discussions of environmental protection is the prophetic statement that the roots of our ecological crises are spiritual crises. In large part, the damage we inflict on creation stems from our individual and collective inability to control our appetites—disordered as they are, seeking fulfillment in worldly things when in fact what we truly seek is a Someone, and that someone is love itself, a divine Trinity of three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The desire for God's love isn't difficult to understand. What is difficult is turning toward God and away from our vices.

It is notable that after the words that open this post, Luke places the event of the Transfiguration. In doing so, Luke tells us that the Cross leads to the glory foreshadowed at the Transfiguration. Or as is noted in the famed prayer attributed to St. Francis, “it is dying that we are born to eternal life.”

The necessary changes to our lifestyles that will slow and, one hopes, reverse the rampant and dangerous destruction of our planet’s ecosystems will come only by our seeking the grace of God and by the taking up of our crosses of self-denial. 

This has been foreshadowed in these old Catholic petitions: "Lord, grant me the grace to mortify my senses—to be in this world but not of the world."

And as we read in the Gospel of this feast day, 
Jesus said to Nicodemus: "No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. John 3:13-17

1 comment:

Thanks for commenting. No input or question is too small. You're encouraged to be passionate, feisty, and humorous. But do so with civility, please.