“Transfigured on Mount Tabor, Jesus desired to show His glory to His disciples – not to keep them from going through the Cross, but to show them to where He was carrying the Cross. Whoever dies with Christ, with Christ shall rise again; those who struggle with Him, with Him shall triumph. The Cross is the gate of the Resurrection. In this Lenten season, let us contemplate devoutly the image of the Crucified Lord: it is the symbol of the Christian faith; it is the symbol of Jesus, who died and rose for us. Let us make sure that the Cross marks the stages of our Lenten journey, that we might understand more and more perfectly the gravity of sin and the value of the sacrifice with which the Redeemer has saved us – all of us.” – Pope Francis, Angelus address, St Peter’s Square, 12 March 2017
Before giving his usual Angelus address to the crowds gathered today in Saint Peter’s Square, the Holy Father offered these words to the faithful on the value of the Cross. They are very powerful words, words which we perhaps need to hear not only in this holy season of Lent, but in all the moments of life and especially the darker ones, those moments where we can feel as though the Lord is furthest from us. The reality is quite different, of course; in those moments of suffering we are as close to Him as we can be – for we are nailed to the same Cross. I have written previously about the Throne of the Cross and the good it does to the soul to meditate upon It. That meditation will prepare us well for those occasions in life when, in one way or another, we will be called to carry our own cross.
For Saint Faustina, the Cross of Christ was always before the eyes of her soul. And, like Pope Francis, she knew perfectly well that the Cross is indeed the ‘Gate of the Resurrection’. There is no Easter without first living out Calvary. If we resemble Christ in His Passion, we will more closely resemble Him in glory. In her Diary, we find this passage –
“Jesus told me that I please Him best by meditating on His sorrowful Passion, and by such meditation, much light falls upon my soul. He who wants to learn true humility should reflect upon the Passion of Jesus. When I meditate upon the Passion of Jesus, I get a clear understanding of many things I could not comprehend before.” (Diary, para.2670)
The Divine Mercy devotion asks that daily at 3pm we recall the Passion and Death of the Merciful Lord on the Cross. He asked Saint Faustina to make, if at all possible, the Stations of the Cross in that “hour of great mercy” – or, at the very least, to stop and pray for a moment in honour of His Passion. It is through His Passion and Death that we are redeemed. The Cross is a reminder of our sinfulness and of our need for redemption; it is also a promise of that same redemption. Truly, it is “the gate of the Resurrection”, as Pope Francis tells us today.
Also in the Diary of Saint Faustina, and seemingly offering a response to the words of the Pope with which this page began, she suggests this as a small means of reparation to the Merciful Lord –
“Small practices for Lent .. I can practice little things: say the Chaplet which the Lord taught me. Intention: to beg divine mercy for poor sinners, and for priests, the power to bring sinful hearts to repentance..” (Diary, para.934)
Maybe this is an example we could follow each day during Lent and perhaps even long after Lent is over?