Writings About Saints
At the beginning of today’s Gospel, Jesus says to the twelve: “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” After signaling to John who it is, but not hearing the answer, Peter hears Jesus say to him: “Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” One imagines that Peter understood Jesus to be answering John’s question by identifying him as the soon-to-be traitor.
Today, on this Passion Sunday, we are nourished by the dramatic scene of the recapitulation of all things in Christ Jesus made manifest by the dialogue of Christ with an adulterous woman. Here, an adulterous woman’s secretive life moves from hidden to revealed, from revealed to acknowledged, from acknowledged to forgiven, from forgiven to infectious.
Just inside the doorway from the abbey cloister to the chapter room, there hangs an icon of St. Joseph written by our own fr. Philip. Not unlike the secco in the center south shrine here in the nave, the carpenter of Nazareth is depicted with the Christ child on his shoulders. Just a few days ago I looked at the icon and thought, “Carries the Son of God on his shoulders for fun—Terror of Demons.”
Every year we hear this prophecy of Isaiah, and we instinctively know it was fulfilled in the virginal conception of Christ in the womb of Blessed Mary. And indeed that is true. It’s not just an adaptation of an ancient text to fit a mystery of our faith; this prophecy, even as it flowed out of Isaiah’s mouth, literally referred to the incarnation of the Son of God by the Holy Spirit. And yet, because the selection offered is truncated, we miss the wider historical context in which the prophecy was made, a context which only adds to the profundity of this prophecy.
On Tuesday morning, when we filed into the room where Fr. Leo was lying having recently passed, we were greeted with an unforgettable and consoling image: Fr. Leo’s hands wrapped lovingly around a crucifix, his face serene, at peace. Today we hear the Lord say to us: “Take up your cross and follow Me.”
Writings For Spiritual Growth
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (Jn 15:13). My whole life has in one way or another revolved around the desires that make up the very core of this single verse. Sometimes intentionally, but most times unknowingly, I found that the direction of my life was set by the principles which form the bold application of this verse.
Even as his health declined, Fr. Leo continued to orient his life to the service of the altar, recognizing in the Holy Eucharist the source of every grace and heavenly blessing. At that moment, I knew that I, too, wanted to be a Norbertine priest, “lifting high the Holy Eucharist over the miseries and errors of this world.”
The Norbertine vocation is essentially Eucharistic. It is true, the Church expects every religious institute to “make every effort to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice daily, to receive the most sacred Body of Christ, and to adore the Lord Himself in the sacrament.”
The mystery of the most holy Trinity is the most sublime dogma of our faith. We affirm without hesitation that there is one and only one God. And without the slightest shadow of contradiction, we likewise affirm that there are three divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of these Persons is entirely God.
The sublime dignity of the Christian vocation is to be conformed to and united with the Person and Priesthood of Jesus Christ. This is true of all the baptized, and yet the Church teaches that it is all the more incumbent upon that man whose share in the priesthood of Christ is not only the common royal and prophetic dignity but also what we call the ministerial priesthood, the power to administer to all the faithful the means Christ has instituted to save souls from hell and usher them into heaven.
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"A priest is not a priest for himself. He is a priest for you."
– St. John Vianney
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