Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Memorial of Saint Isidore the Farmer
That and I just gave myself a full manicure-pedicure so now I am waiting for it to dry to apply that last coat of topcoat, it has to last until AT LEAST Monday. I started doing it at about 1:30 in the afternoon and here it is about half past three. Yeah, with my obsessive-compulsive perfectionist tendencies, something as basic as giving oneself a mani-pedi can turn into a whole afternoon affair. That, and I had to locate a bottle of nail polish remover since the FULL bottle of mine own stuff, which I got before I entered the convent seems to have disappeared (you don’t really do your nails much in the convent). I found one, in my sister’s bathroom, with just enough to do what I needed to get done. YOINK! I told her I would buy her a new bottle.
I think I did a nice job. Plus, while some girls do their nails to pop music or something like that, I got to listen to some nice Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. They are going to look so cute for Festival this weekend and with a pair of sandals! I just pray they don’t chip … then there will be serious issues. You think I am joking? I’m not.
Listen to this piece of beautiful sacred music by Mozart, it’s his Ave Verum Corpus. It’s one of my very favorite works of his:
This weekend, I went to Mass (I know, give me a medal or even better, a gold star) and one of the homilies I heard (I was around for multiple Masses) was about the meaning of the crucifix. Actually, you can read it here. I have written about his homilies before, many parishioners (myself included) really like them and he podcasts!
Anyway, in his homily, Father talks about the meaning of the crucifix and how it is one of the “most important and powerful symbols of our Catholic faith.” They are visible reminders of what Christ has done for each one of us, namely, died to ransom us from our sins and the consequences thereof. He makes an interesting point about how the concept of Christ’s salvific sacrifice on the cross out of love for us is “easy” to grasp in the head but it can be a bit more difficult to truly come to an understanding of it in our hearts. He also points out that while Christ does save us from things that happen to us in this world, His death on the cross really “saved us from is dangers in the life to come.”
You can read the rest, just figured I would give you a foretaste of it. You really should read it. Just sayin’.
But that got me thinking. First, it reminded me of my experience on Good Friday this past Triduum when I approached to venerate the crucifix and had this drive to embrace Him and never let Him go. of course, I did not do that because they would have needed a crow bar to get my arms off from around Him and to do so would ruin such a nice wooden crucifix (that actually looks like what it is supposed to be … oh, modern and post-modern art … *rolls eyes*).
Then it reminded me of what my friends used to say about my room at college. I am your typical Church lady, I have icons, relics, crucifixes, statues (I would have had incense by I didn’t want to get kicked out of the residence hall). When I pray, I typically light a candle and when I am not at church (how sad), I whip on my mantilla. They would say that the Devil would have a heckuva time in my room because of all the holy stuff. I would always laugh but it’s true, when one surrounds oneself with holy things and holy people, the sanctity has a better chance of rubbing off than if one were to be surrounded by profane items and profane people. It’s like diffusion … a spiritual diffusion that can go either way and from both ends.
I have a crucifix next to my bed so that the last and the first thing I see is Christ on the cross. It reminds me that His love for me is such that (as Father’s homily explains) He would give His life for me and even undergo cruel and inhuman tortures leading up to it to save me from my own sins and the sins of others. It reminds me that His love for me will never die and He will never withhold it regardless of what I may do or not do (sins of commission and omission).
I have a crucifix on the wall next to my dressing table to remind me that everything I do is by His grace and love. It’s also like when a girl has a picture of her favorite guy on her dresser. That’s my picture and it’s beautiful and I love it.
I actually have a holy card of Our Lady of Mental Peace, which, if my nails were not still drying, I would go get out of my missal. I pray that prayer almost everyday at Mass and I did especially when I was trying to discern whether God wanted me to stay in the convent or not. I was not in any kind of mental or spiritual peace at that point. It wasn’t fun at all.
O Lady of Mental Peace,
Mother of Tranquility and
Mother of Hope,
look upon me in this time
of disquiet and weakness.
Still my restless (and impatient) spirit,
teach my searching heart to know
that God’s love for me
is unchanging and that the suffering
which He may will for me now
is to draw me closer to Him.
Let thy gentle peace and His —
which the world cannot give —
be always with me, that I may
be sanctified: and then:
I beseech thee
for the grace to bring this
peace to others.
Jesus, My Savior, I give myself
entirely to Thee through Mary:
Our Lady of Mental Peace, pray for me.
That prayer helps me to this day as I try to figure out what He wants me to do. There have been some uneasy times but whenever those come up, I just remember this prayer and try to offer it to God.
I boldfaced those sections because they have special meaning to me (though I love the whole prayer) especially the part about
God’s love for me is unchanging and that the suffering, which He may will for me now is to draw me closer to Him.
On the holy card I have, there is an addition phrase about how only true love begins by touching His love but we’ll work with this, this will be just fine. Though I do like the fact that my holy card has that in the prayer.
When I look at a crucifix, I see love nailed to a tree. I see the depth, width, and duration of His love for me and for each one of us: infinite and eternal. The Lord’s love for me does not change, even when I question, even when I fall (and I have fallen terribly a few times), even when I am not so faithful (*knowing chuckle*, even when I feel like I am in a fog.
When I look at a crucifix, I am reminded that all my suffering in this world ought to be united with His suffering on the cross. Whenever I am beginning to feel sorry for myself, I try to think about how small my problems and sufferings are compared to His untold and unimaginable suffering on the cross. It also teaches me that my sufferings, no matter how great or small, when united to His sufferings can help me and others grow closer to Him. No suffering is for naught; it all has a purpose and an end.
I also remember a couple quotes by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (soon-to-be saint, hear me, Lord):
Keep your eyes on the crucifix, for Jesus without the cross is a man without a mission, and the cross without Jesus is a burden without a reliever.
It can be said that Christ was the only person born to die. Where everyone else came into the world to live, His sole purpose in life was to die on the cross. For others, death would have been a stumbling block in their mission, but for Christ it was His purpose, the culmination of His life.
(From “Life of Christ”)
The first one, to me, explains why Catholic Churches have (or at least ought to have … it is on the books) a crucifix in their sanctuaries and Catholics have crucifixes in their homes and other places instead of just empty crosses which are more prevalent in Protestant communities. The crucifix is not a “downer” with it’s portrayal of a dead or dying Christ. To be quite sure, it’s the complete inverse, it’s the greatest “upper” because it is by His dying the cross that we were all redeemed! To consider the crucifix a “downer” is just ignorant of the true beauty of the cross. The cross is the throne for the King of Kings and the altar of sacrifice of the Great High Priest! If we take Christ off the cross, we miss the whole meaning of His Passion. If we take Christ off the cross with the justification of the Resurrection, then we miss the very important fact that there would be no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. You have to accept and embrace the whole package, not just pick and choose. It doesn’t work for being a practical Catholic (as opposed to a “cafeteria” “Catholic”) and it certainly does not work for redemption. The Passion is an integral part of the whole story.
The second one, to me, is particularly interesting because Archbishop Sheen is right, we are all born to live. Even from the point when Christ was conceived (and from time immemorial, etc. etc.), His mission was already to die on the Cross for us all. Yes, He was to live life but that life would always be oriented to Calvary and the salvific mission the Father had given Him that would culminate in His sacrifice on the Cross. Christ was born to be the only sacrifice that would pay in full the debt man had incurred due to sin.
And He did it all for us. He did it for you. He did it for me. He did it for the most pious orthodox Catholic. He did it for the more depraved sinner. He did it for the most virulent atheist. He did it for the one who questions and lives in a cloud of uncertainty. He did it for the one for whom faith and trust come easy. Every single one, and everyone else in between.
That is what the crucifix means.
All right, I think my nails are done. Time for one last coat and then a good spray with nail enamel dryer. I have all my stuff ready for the weekend (sewing, rosaries, Aloysius (of course), and a few books). So excited for this weekend! Please pray for good weather, a successful weekend, and most importantly a safe and fun time for all!
Have a great day!