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At the Foot of the Cross

Holy, mighty One,
have mercy on us.

Unnameable Other,
One with us,
Have mercy on us.

Unshakable Compassion,
Infinite Goodness,
have mercy on us.

Loving Silence,
Beauty, source of all loveliness,
All-Desirable One,
have mercy on us.

O Crucified One,
have mercy on us.

 

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"The Cross of Christ is the penetration of God into that unholy area where we would least expect him and, if the truth be known, where we least want him.  God has entered into the loneliness of our suffering and the self-hatred of our sin.  And he has not come as judgment but as acceptance.  The Cross is the communication of God’s care but it is not a message from the outside.  God loves us by receiving our lives into himself as we experience them — torn and broken.  The Cross is God loving us from the inside."

- John Shea, Stories of God  (Chicago: Thomas More Press, 1978), 222.

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Image: Christ on the Cross, by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1516

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Questions Worth Pondering

As young children who felt Lent needed to be made interesting – and not just like a punishment— my classmates:

• went to the priest who gave the biggest, darkest cross of ashes;

• did not eat candy but did save every bite that came their way;

• went to the Stations ceremony during school rather than after;

• and competed to win the “I gave the most” alms contest.

 
The Church still calls us to Lenten prayer, fasting, and almsgiving — but not to win contests or prove how good we are.

So we ask ourselves:
Why then are we invited to these practices? What do they give us? How do they make us more aware of the Christ who redeems us and whose love is shot through our lives?

These are indeed questions for pondering.

 

I will sprinkle clean water upon you,
and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you;
and I will remove from your body the heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh.
I will put my spirit within you…
(Ezekiel 36:25-27a)

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God Revealed in Mercy

God’s being God is revealed in his mercy. Mercy is the expression of his divine essence.
Walter Kasper,
Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life

 

Eugène Burnand, 1900

Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, as we human beings tend to think.  God, we learn, expresses divine power not by getting even with us when we do wrong, but by forgiving us: “[You] manifest your almighty power above all by pardoning and showing mercy” (Collect, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time).

What about us? How do we live out of the divine mercy poured out on us? How do we witness to the divine life dwelling in us?

Do you not know
that you are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
(1 Cor 3:16).

One of the most important ways is to show mercy — to live out of the merciful love which we cannot claim to merit.  And we remind ourselves — in our weakness, in our reluctance to forgive — that we are always wrapped in the tender and merciful love of God.

Oh, Mercy! … Wherever I turn my thoughts, I find nothing but mercy.
(Catherine of Siena, Dialogues, 30)

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Art by Eugène Burnand, "Heimgefunden" (Home Found), 1900

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For more reflections on mercy, go to "Caught Up in God."

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