Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Cross of Christ

"therefore, symbolizes the true altar of prophecy, on which the oblation of man's nature should be celebrated by means of a salvation-bringing Victim.

In the film, The Passion of the Christ, someone asks Jesus,'Why do you embrace your cross?'

"There the blood of the spotless Lamb blotted out the consequences of the ancient trespass:

"There the whole tyranny of the devil's hatred was crushed, and humiliation triumphed gloriously over the lifting up of pride:

"For so swift was the effect of Faith that of the robbers crucified with Christ, the one who believed in Christ as the Son of God entered paradise justified.

"Who can unfold the mystery of so great a boon? Who can state the power of so wondrous a change?

"In a moment of thee the guilt of long evil-doing is done away; clinging to the cross, amid the cruel tortures of his struggling soul, he passes over to Christ; and to him, on whom his own wickedness had brought punishment, Christ's grace now gives a crown....

"Seeing therefore, dearly-beloved,
that God's Mercy is so great,
that He has deigned to justify by faith
many even from among such a nation,
and had adopted into the company of the patriarchs
and into the number of the chosen people
us who were once perishing
in the deep darkness of our old ignorance,
let us mount to the summit of our hopes
not sluggishly nor in sloth;
but prudently and faithfully reflecting
from what captivity
and from how miserable a bondage,
with what ransom we were purchased,
by how strong an arm led out,
let us glorify God in our body:
that we may show Him dwelling in us,
even by the uprightness of our manner of life...

"And because no virtues are worthier or more excellent than merciful loving-kindness and unblemished chastity, let us more especially equip ourselves with these weapons, so that, raised from the earth, as it were on the two wings of active charity and shining purity, we may win a place in heaven.

"And whosoever, aided by God's grace, is filled with this desire and glories not in himself, but in the Lord, over his progress, pays due honour to the Easter mystery. His threshold the angel of destruction does not cross, for it is marked with the Lamb's blood and the sign of the cross. He fears not the plagues of Egypt, and leaves his foes overwhelmed by the same waters by which he himself was saved.

"And so, dearly-beloved,
with minds and bodies purified
let us embrace
the wondrous mystery of our salvation,
and, cleansed from all 'the leaven
of our old wickedness,
let us keep' the Lord's Passover
with due observance:
so that, the Holy Spirit guiding us,
we may be 'separated' by no temptations
'from the love of Christ,'
Who bringing peace by His blood to all things,
has returned to the loftiness
of the Father's glory,
and yet not forsaken the lowliness
of those who serve Him
to Whom is the honour and the glory
for ever and ever.

from a Sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great
for the Wednesday of Holy Week