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The Way Of The Cross

Jesus Carrying the Cross
by Rapheal, 1516, via Wikipedia

One Sunday afternoon in the Old City of Jerusalem, I walked from my living quarters, the Franciscan Hospice, the Casa Nova, to the chapel of the Flagellation. This Chapel marks the beginning of the Via Dolorosa, the Sorrowful Way, the road Jesus took to Mount Calvary.  All scholars agree that in this Chapel area, the Roman Soldiers lashed Jesus with whips.

On coming out of the small Chapel after praying in its dark interior, I stepped out into the narrow street. Some fifteen feet wide, with high walls on either side of it, the road winds uphill for three blocks to Holy Sepulcher Church, the place of the crucifixion.  As I did so, a plaque on the side wall caught my eye.  On it, a message printed in four languages announced to all passing by, “Jesus is searching for someone who will humble himself as He did and lovingly bear his cross as He did.  Will you be his disciple?”

As I began to copy these words in my notebook, I heard a tapping sound coming from the other end of the deserted road. A lone blind man, in full Muslim dress, was approaching me; his white cane making the tapping sound.  I stood back so that he could walk by.  He came between me and the plaque on the wall.

Just as Jesus had done, this man carried his cross on the Via Dolorosa in the 20th Century.  Perhaps the blind man’s cross of a white cane did not equal the weight of the heavy wooden cross of the Lord.  Still this man’s suffering spread over many years amounted to a heavy burden.  I marveled at the quick step of the man, the certainty of his stride, the look of serenity on his face.

The timing of the blind person coming upon me at the start of the Way of the Cross startled me. The Lord gave me a perfect example of the kind of person He was searching for: one carrying his cross in a loving way.  No one searches out suffering.  Life brings its share of pain and hardship without our volunteering to bring the cross into our lives.  Jesus looks to see if His disciples will bear with this pain in a creative and submissive way.  As we begin this Season of Lent, how can we use our fasting, praying and almsgiving to draw closer to Our Lord?

Fr. George McKenna

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , | 3 Comments

Religion, A Personal Commitment To Christ

I passed this small card out before Mass today along with my Blog – on the back – The 10 Commandments!

When I was a boy of eight or nine years of age, I envied the children on my block that had no religion.   These boys and girls had an ideal life style: no Church to attend on Sunday, no Ten Commandments to follow, and no necessity of going to a priest to tell their sins.  I had to go to Church, try to keep the Commandments and then tell my sins to the parish priest.  The thought often came to me, “why was I born into a family with faith?”

Then the Holy Cross nuns taught us children that Jesus of Nazareth stood behind every Commandment with these words on His lips, “If you love Me, keep the Commandments!” Suddenly I saw the long list of “dos” and “don’ts”, not as an enumeration of restrictions, but rather a loving posting of directions to happiness and peace.

I realized that by following these wishes of Christ, I could deepen my friendship with Him. The way of life that the children with no religion followed oftentimes led to selfishness, self gratification and sometimes, self destruction.

About 50 years ago, I read the pamphlet entitled, “Are We Really Teaching Religion?” written by Frank Sheen, an outstanding layman at the time. The main theme of the essay came to this: “Children are leaving 8th Grade with much information about faith in God, but too often have not developed a warm friendship for Jesus of Nazareth.”

After leaving 8th Grade or High School, the young people drop all this intellectual data as so much baggage and stop attending worship services  If Jesus of Nazareth had become a close, loving friend, the youth would have felt a sudden distress in their hearts at His disappearance from their lives.

Religion can’t simply be dry bones information, but rather a loving, personal commitment to Jesus of Nazareth. Young people are capable of strong, loyal friendships.  Notice how they spend hours on their phones and computers, logged on to social media sites, checking in with their friends.  They can do this because of their interest in the lives of others.

My grand nieces and nephews have all attended Catholic High Schools. Each school offered the students the chance to attend a Kairos retreat during their Junior or Senior Years.  It provides them with four days to contemplate God in their lives and develop a relationship with this Jesus of Nazareth. 

What a wonderful way to grow in your personal commitment to Christ. Encourage your children and grandchildren to seek out these types of events.  Be courageous.  Share this message with them.

Fr. George McKenna

February 4, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , , | Leave a comment