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Lent and Holy Week Meditations

The Love of the Cross in Today’s Life

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Excerpt from The Imitation of Christ:

To many the saying, "Deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow Me,"[Matt 16:24] seems hard, but it will be much harder to hear that final word: "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire"[Matt. 25:41].

Holy Week Cartegna

Our Lady at the foot of the Cross
Holy Week in Cartagena, Spain
Those who hear the word of the cross and follow it willingly now, need not fear that they will hear of eternal damnation on the day of judgment. This sign of the Cross will be in the Heavens when the Lord comes to judge. Then all the servants of the Cross, who during life made themselves one with it and the Crucified, will draw near with great trust to Christ the Judge.

"Why, then, do you fear to take up the Cross when through it you can win the Kingdom of Heaven? In the Cross is salvation, in the Cross is life, in the Cross is protection from enemies, in the Cross is infusion of divine peace, in the Cross is fortitude of heart, in the Cross is joy of spirit, in the Cross is summary of the virtues, in the Cross is the perfection of sanctity. There is no salvation for the soul or hope of everlasting life except in the Cross. Take, then, your cross, follow Jesus Christ and you will enter eternal life.

"The Lord Himself opened the way before you in carrying the Cross on His shoulder, and on it He died for your love, so that you also might carry your cross and long to die on it. Therefore, if you will die with Him, you shall also live with Him; and if you will be His companion in His suffering, you shall also share in His glory" (Chapter 12, “The Royal Road of the Cross”).

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

These are counsels of a great elevation of spirit that are always opportune since man has a true horror of suffering. But they have a special application for us regarding the love of the Cross today.

This is because we are living in an epoch in which Our Lord is passing through the Way of the Cross more than any other time in History. He suffered what He suffered during His Passion in great part because of the situation of the Catholic Church today. Therefore, if in this epoch we do not have a true sense of making reparation, a true sense of compassion for Our Lord and Our Lady that lead us to decide to accept all the crosses sent to us, and even look for sufferings when they do not come to us, then we are off the correct path and we do not understand the time in which we are living.

A penitential procession behind the Dead Christ

Penitents process behind the statue of the Dead Lord
It was a good custom in the Iberian Peninsula and in other European countries that during Holy Week processions with a statue of the Senhor Morto [Our Lord in Death], associations of penitents would follow the procession with their members flagellating themselves, sometimes to the point of drawing blood. It reflected a profound sense of solidarity with the Passion of Our Lord. Because if the One Who was Innocence itself was flagellated for love of the sinner, the sinner should follow that same path to make reparation for his own sins. If we are not able to flagellate ourselves physically, we should accept spiritual flagellations, spiritual sufferings that Divine Providence allows us to be given.

So, the one who does not suffer seeing this new Passion of Our Lord and Our Lady is not following well what is happening in our times. The tepid soul, the one who does not empathize with the Catholic Church, cannot claim to be a good member of the Mystical Body of Christ. The fundamental meaning of compassion, cum passio, (with the passion), is to share the sufferings of another. To have compassion for the Church in this dramatic hour that she is passing through is a fundamental element of our spiritual life.

Whosoever watches the present day tragedy of the Church – an apocalyptical tragedy – and does not suffer takes a position similar to a man who would have seen Christ passing by on the Way of the Cross and said: “Poor man, He is carrying quite a heavy Cross. But I have other things to do than think about Him.”

Today we should ask the grace of a true compassion for the Church so that every suffering inflicted on the Church might be experienced by us in our souls.

This meditation by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira was translated
from the transcript of the tape and adapted by Atila S. Guimarães
Posted March 20, 2006


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