HE BORE OUR PRIDE IN HIS BODY ON THE CROSS
by Fr Raniero Cantalamessa
The cross is the tomb which absorbs all human pride:”Come thus far; I said and no farther: here your proud waves shall break” (Job 38:11). The waves of human pride break against the rock of Calvary and they can go no further. The wall God erected against them is too high and the abyss he dug before them too deep. ‘We must realize that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body’ (Romans 6:6). The body of pride — for this is the sin par excellence, the sin that gives rise to all other sins. ‘He was bearing our faults in his own body on the cross’ (1 Peter 2:24). He bore our pride in his body.
But what concerns us in all this? Where is the ‘gospel’, the good and joyful news? It is that Jesus humbled himself also for me, in my place. ‘If one man has died for all, then all have died’ (2 Corinthians 5:14); one has humbled himself for all, therefore all have humbled themselves. Jesus on the cross is the new Adam obeying for all. He is the head, the beginning of a new mankind. He acts in the name of all and for the benefit of all. As ‘by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous’ (Romans 5:19), by one man’s humility, many will be made humble.
Pride, like disobedience, is no longer part of us. It is part of the Old Adam. It has become old-fashioned. The new thing now is humility, which is full of hope because it opens up a new existence based on giving, love and solidarity and no longer on competitiveness, social climbing and taking advantage of one another. ‘The old creation has gone and now the new one is here’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Humility is one of these marvelous new things.
What, therefore, does it mean to celebrate the mystery of the cross ‘in spirit and in truth’? When applied to what we are celebrating, what is the significance of the ancient maxim: ‘Acknowledge what you are doing, imitate what you are celebrating’? It signifies that you should implement within yourself what you represent externally; put into practice what you are commemorating in the liturgy.
…I must give Christ ‘the sinful body of my pride’, so that he can destroy it de facto just as he destroyed it by right once and for all on the cross. When I was a boy, the people of my region used to light a bonfire in the country at nightfall on the eve of certain feasts which could be seen over the hills. ach family would bring some wood and vine branches to keep the fire going while, around it, the rosary would be recited. Something similar must take place here this evening in preparation for the great feast of Easter. Each one of us should throw, in spirit, his load of pride, vanity, self-sufficiency, presumption, haughtiness into the great furnace of Christ’s passion.
We must imitate the saints in heaven as they adore the Lamb, for this is the model for our adoration here on earth. Revelation tells us the saints approach the throne in procession and fall down before him who is seated and they ‘threw down their crowns in front of the throne’ (Revelation 4:10). They cast the real crowns of their martyrdom and we cast the false crown with which we have crowned ourselves. We must ‘nail all feelings of pride to the cross’ (St Augustine, On Christian Doctrine 2,7,9).
On the cross Jesus did not just reveal or practice humility; he created it too. True Christian humility consists in participating in Christ’s inner state on the cross. St Paul says, ‘In your minds you must be the same as Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 2:5); the same mind and not a similar one. Apart from this, many other things can be taken for humility which are really either natural inclination or timidness, or a liking for understatement, or simply common sense and intelligence, when they are not a refined form of pride.
Once we have put on Christ’s humility, it will be easier, among other things, to work for Christian unity, for unity and peace naturally follow humility. This is also true in families. Marriage starts with an act of humility. A young man who falls in love and who on his knees, as was once the custom, asks a girl to marry him, makes the most radical act of humility in his life. He begs and it is as if he were saying, ‘Give me yourself. Alone, I am not sufficient to myself, I need you!’ We could say that God created humankind male and female to help them to be humble, not to be haughty and self-sufficient and to discover the blessing of depending on someone who loves you. He inscribed humility in our very flesh. But, unfortunately, pride too often takes over again and the person we love has to pay for the initial need we had of him or her. Then a dreadful wall of pride rises between the two partners and their incommunicability extinguishes all joy. This evening, Christian spouses are also invited to place all resentment at the foot of the cross, to be reconciled to one another, embracing each other for the sake of Christ who, on this day on the cross, ‘killed the hostility’ (Ephesians 2:16).
(Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. is an Italian Catholic priest in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and theologian and writer. He has served as the Preacher to the Papal Household since 1980, under Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.)
HOW TO AVOID PURGATORY By Fr. Paul O’Sullivan O.P.
For those who have not read this little book and to refresh myself, I will be posting the entire book in daily doses. (To read later find in the Purgatory Category).
THE BROWN SCAPULAR
(The following official information was obtained from the National Scapular
center, Darien, Illinois, May 9, 1986.)
Two wonderful promises of Our Lady of Mount Carmel are available to those
who have been enrolled in the Brown Scapular.
The great promise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, given to St. Simon Stock on
July 16, 1251, is as follows: “Whoever dies wearing this scapular shall not
suffer eternal fire.”
Our Lady’s second Scapular Promise, known as the Sabbatine Privilege (the
word “Sabbatine” meaning “Saturday”), was given by the Blessed Virgin Mary
to Pope John XXII in the year 1322 and is as follows: “I, the Mother of
Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I
shall find in Purgatory, I shall free.”
There are three conditions for obtaining this privilege: 1) the wearing of
the Brown Scapular; 2) the practice of chastity according to one’s state of
life; 3) the daily recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin
Those who cannot read can abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays
instead of reciting the Little Office. Also, any priest who has diocesan
faculties (this includes most priests) has the additional faculty to
commute (change) the third requirement into another pious work–for
example, the daily Rosary.
Because of the greatness of the Sabbatine privilege, the Carmelite Order
suggests that the third requirement not be commuted into anything less than
the daily recitation of seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys and seven
When St Eisebius of Cremona (memorial today) went to Rome to collect funds on behalf of St Jerome, he noticed that Rufinus, an old friend of Jerome’s – though not on good terms with him, was translating the works of Origen, against whose writing St Jerome was arguing. Eusebius secretly removed the works and sent them to Jerome, thus in fact stealing and causing a final rift between the two. So even saints sometimes do disgraceful things and St Eusebius’ theft of Rufinus’ manuscript was a thoughtless act of an overzealous friend embroiled in the controversies of the day. It is good to know that even saints have faults and that such faults detract nothing from their holiness. For – a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying! NEVER FORGET IT!
Quote of the Day – 5 March
“A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your weakness.”
St Mother Teresa
One Minute Reflection – 5 March
The Lord is far from the wicked but the prayer of the just he hears….Prv 15:29
REFLECTION – “Let us unceasingly prepare ourselves for prayer by carrying out our dutes with great fidelity. Then let us come before our divine Saviour with all the simplicity of our souls.”,,,,,,,,St Mary Euphrase
PRAYER – Almighty God, move me to prepare myself for prayer by a good life. Grant that I may pray to You by my works as well as by my words. Teach me to truly live the words I pray. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 5 March
The First Week of Lent
You who breathed
the spirit of life within me.
Draw out of me
the light and life You created.
Help me to find my way back to You.
Help me to use my life
to reflect Your glory
and to serve others
as Your son Jesus did.