~Dedicated to Fr. Christopher Brandler~
What is the cross?
The cross for a Christian is the palm of victory, the way to Heaven, for by taking up the cross, we follow the way of our Divine Master, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Himself told us that we must take up our cross and follow him. “Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” ~Matt. 16:24
All the more must a Priest, configured to Our Lord in such a special way and His Representative on Earth, imitate His Master, in His life and His sufferings. The Priest must be intimately united to Our Lord and willing to suffer anything, even the palm of martyrdom, that Our Lord might be honored and glorified and that souls might be saved.
The life of a Priest is a sacrifice and oblation, that of a life dedicated to the service of God, for his greater honor and glory. The physical trials of this life only prepare us for heaven. The greater the trials and the perseverance in undergoing them, the greater the reward in Heaven. This life is only for a short time.
Carry your cross with patience and joy. You will be eternally rewarded for it. If you are blessed with crosses and sufferings in this life, you are receiving the greatest gift from Heaven. You are following the way of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The cross is a great mystery. Our Lord loved it and bore it for us, so that we might be saved. He asks us to follow his example.
To participate in the Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ is to participate in His sufferings. By joining our sufferings with his, we can made reparation for our sins and the sins of the world. We must die to ourselves and live for God and God alone. The path to holiness is found through the cross.
You are walking the Via Crucis now, but your crown in Heaven will be glorious, Father. A crown will replace your cross. Without Our Lord, you can do nothing, but with him, you can do everything, you can save souls from the pit of hell, you can be the example of what a true Christian and Priest is, you can be a great saint by your love of the cross, your love of suffering and the love of the True Faith.
Once again, we look to the words of the great Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who took up his cross, to understand this profound truth of the cross more clearly.
“Throughout the history of the Church, the saints-souls truly desirous of deepening their Christian life, of considering what God has done for us, the great mystery of the love of God for our souls-these souls have always found the solution, and the means of increasing their spiritual life and of giving it a profound reality, in the mystery of the Cross.“
“For, in fact, the mystery of our sanctification, the mystery of our justification, cannot be explained without the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“And, today, more than ever, we need to meditate upon this mystery, because at all times, and particularly perhaps in our own age, man wants to eliminate the Cross. He does not want to look at it; he does not wish to have it before his eyes. Why? Because the Cross represents sacrifice … sacrifice. And yet it is only thereby-by the Cross, by sacrifice-that the Christian soul can regain life. “Mors mortua tune est,” the liturgy says. “Quando mortua vitafuit.” When He who is Life died, then death itself died. Life triumphed. And that is the entire summary of the spirituality of the Cross. We must die to ourselves to find life. That is the spiritual life, that is our justification. Holiness is nothing else! It is very simple indeed, summed up in two movements of our soul: the hatred of sin and the desire of God. Die to sin to live unto God. That is the Cross, it is nothing more than that! It is the symbol of death to sin so as to live in God.”
“Men speak today of “liberation.” Everywhere they have this word so much on their lips: liberation, liberation, liberation! What liberation? Liberation from Our Lord Jesus Christ! They want no more of Our Lord Jesus Christ; they want no more of His Cross! They want no more of His sacrifice because His sacrifice reminds us that we must sacrifice ourselves, that we must die to our sins to have life. Men who seek rather their pleasure and their satisfaction can neither see, nor hear, nor understand. They want nothing to do with the Cross. And that is why so many crosses have disappeared in our day.”
“It is truly Calvary that is renewed each time the priest ascends to the altar and offers the Sacrifice of the Mass. It is there that we must find the source of our sanctification: in the Holy Mass.”
“We ought to have the conviction that in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is found the source of all graces which we can receive. And that is why we have the need, why we feel the need to keep the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of leaving it untouched, so precious it is. For we would risk otherwise to cut off the source of our graces. If we changed the spirit of the Sacrifice of the Mass, and if we came to make of it a simple communion, a simple thanksgiving, a simple meal, we would cause this source of grace which is the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His sacrificial oblation, to disappear. And that which the priest performs on the altar. It is not only a recalling of the memory of the Last Supper or of the memory of the Cross. Oh, no! It is much more than that! There is unfathomable mystery in the Sacrifice of the Mass. That is why we ought to be attached to it with our whole soul, with all our heart, because it is there that we find indeed that which is the love of God for us; it is certainly Our Lord Jesus Christ crucified on the Cross for us. What more could Our Lord have done, what more could God have done, than immolate Himself on the Cross for us, to redeem us from our sins? Shall we be insensible to the sacrifice of Our Lord, of the Son of God? One can still find marked on old crucifixes of another age these words: “Can you say that I have not loved you, when you see Love carved upon this Cross?” Love carved upon the Cross! That is the crucifx: love manifested, love alive upon the Cross. Thus one can understand the desire that all holy souls have felt ever to have the crucifix before them, to find in the crucifix the support of their spirituality, the source of their spiritual life.”
“Christian souls ought to suffer with Our Lord. A soul that would not wish to suffer with Our Lord would not be a Christian soul. And we should not only suffer with, but also, as it were, think with Our Lord. That is to say, desire with Our Lord to suffer for the remission of the sins of the world: all the injuries, the sacrileges, the sins which are so numerous in the world. And finally, we should complete the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Paul says this very thing: we ought to complete’in the flesh the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And that we should also desire.“
“Oh, it is a desire that will cost us dearly . . . that will cost us dearly, that will make us suffer-for if we wish to complete the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, it will be necessary to suffer with Him, to be immolated with Him. And it would be too easy to say: “Since I am a Christian, God will bless me and exempt me from all suffering. I shall lead a life without suffering, without sacrifice, because I love God, God must love me, and therefore the Good Lord would certainly not want me to suffer!” That is, indeed, poor comprehension of the mystery of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. If Our Lord has shown us the example of suffering, then on the contrary, we should have the desire to suffer with Him, the desire to sacrifice ourselves with Him! And when the thorn of pain pierces us, we should be happy, and find in this sacrifice our joy, our happiness, in associating ourselves-as God wants us to associate ourselves-to the Passion of His Son for the redemption of the world and for the redemption of our sins. Is this not but another mark of love from God, His desire that we be united in suffering with Our Lord Jesus Christ?“
“That is the Christian life; that is the Catholic teaching. That is our faith, the object of our faith, the reality of our faith.”
“How beautiful it is, this Christian, this Catholic doctrine! How completely it transforms our life! How completely it transforms our life here below! And it is that which prepares us for life eternal “O Crux, ave, spes nostra!” We refer to the Cross as our hope, for in fact, the Cross is only a road, a way-the way to eternal life, to glory. But it is necessary to pass by way of the Cross!
One must take up the Cross and bear it after Our Lord to arrive at eternal life. This via crucis should be ours throughout the course of our life so as to arrive at life eternal.”
“You should have the Cross ever before your eyes. Your most precious desire should be to assist
at, to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It should be this that fills your heart, your soul, with that balm that causes all the little difficulties you may have-in your studies, with your health, in the difficulties of community life-that causes all that to disappear before the joy that you have to unite yourselves with Our Lord Jesus Christ, before the joy that you have in living with Our Lord Jesus Christ, before the thought that one day, God willing, you will ascend to the altar and will offer the Sacrifice of Our Lord; that you will renew the Sacrifice of Calvary and that you will offer yourselves as well as victims with Our Lord on the altar for the redemption of the sins of the world, that you will preach this doctrine of the Cross, that you will preach Jesus and Jesus Crucified, as Saint Paul says.”
“O great saints, chosen from all eternity by Jesus Christ, the Saint of saints, to be clothed in an
especial manner with His admirable sanctity; glorious priests selected from thousands of men by Jesus, the Supreme High Priest, to be His associates in the Divine Priesthood, prostrate at your feet with all respect and humility I salute you! I honor you by every means in my power as my masters and spiritual fathers, as shining lights in the firmament of the Church, as true shepherds of the flock of Christ, as oracles of the Eternal Word, as prophets of His holy teaching, as chiefs in the celestial militia, as captains of the army of the Great King, as princes of His realm, as kings of His empire. I revere you as members of the greatest and most dignified order in heaven and on earth, the Eternal Priesthood, founded and established by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I hail you as the solid pillars supporting Mother Church, as the unshakable foundation of the house of God. I respect you as custodians of the keys of heaven, as cherubim stationed with flaming swords at the gates of paradise to prevent the unworthy and profane from entering its portals.
I see in you living and perfect images of the Sovereign Priest, Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God, with whom you are one, being clothed with the very Priesthood conferred upon Him by His Eternal Father, and one with Him as all members are one with their head. With all my heart I thank God for having elevated you to the highest dignity in his heavenly kingdom and in the family of His Divine Son. I rejoice that you are now crowned with glory and happiness, commensurate with the loftiness of your priestly dignity. From my innermost soul I thank you for the heroic service you have rendered here on earth to our Divine Master and to His Holy Church, by the faithful discharge of your sacerdotal duties, and for the glory you have rendered God in time and eternity. Who can tell the ardor of the love for Holy Mother Church which consumed you? Who can ever express in words the vigilance and zeal with which you labored in her interests? You realize now more than ever her great need in our materialistic age for priests who will follow in your footsteps, imitating your virtue and holiness. You understand how true is the saying of the Eternal Truth Himself that the harvest is great but the laborers few.
Permit me to address to you the prayer that Our Lord and Saviour recommended to all His children: “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest (Matt. 9, 38). But pray that He send workers “approved unto God” (2 Tim. 2, 15), workers seeking not their own interests, but having as their only goal the glory of the Master and the salvation of the souls which He purchased with the shedding of His Precious Blood. Pray that He may send to His Church priests after His own heart, who will walk the same road you trod while you were on earth. O saintly priests, you know full well the importance and necessity of having holy priests in the Church of Christ. It is the most ardent longing of all true Christians who are animated with the love of God and the zeal for His Church.”
~St. John Eudes to the great Priest Saints of the Church.
Be numbered among them, Father.
~Damsel of the Faith