The Joy of Good Friday

A Station in Czetochowa, Poland. Photo by M.

Holy Week is the time when we hear the Passion of Christ again and again and again. The whole week is centered on it. On Palm Sunday as I was listening to and praying with the Gospel, I started to think about how much I do not really like to hear about Jesus being betrayed, arrested, condemned to death, beaten, and crucified. It is not a pleasant thing to think about for many reasons: two of them being that He is God and our Creator and that He is doing this because of us.

Yesterday I was praying the Stations of the Cross (for the first time this Lent, which is too bad for me) and I got to the second station where Jesus takes up his cross. This was the meditation that stood out to me (from St. Josemaria Escriva’s meditation The Way of the Cross):

“Is it not true that as soon as you cease to be afraid of the Cross, of what people call the cross, when you set your will to accept the Will of God, then you find happiness, and all your worries, all your sufferings, physical or moral, pass away?

Truly the Cross of Jesus is gentle and lovable. There, sorrows cease to count; there is only the joy of knowing that we are co-redeemers with Him”

I remembered again that as Christians we can have a joy in our sufferings, and as St. Paul explains we participate in our salvation. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church (Colossians 1:24).”

If we can rejoice in our own sufferings, then is there joy also in Christ’s suffering? He is God and has perfect suffering; and while it seems totally wrong for our God to suffer and die, this is what He chose in order to redeem us. What makes Good Friday good is the fact that His suffering brought about our redemption. The meditation on the Second Station from the St. Andrew Missal says, “A heavy cross is laid upon the bruised shoulders of Jesus. He receives it with meekness, nay, with a secret joy, for it is the instrument with which He is to redeem the world.” Imagine Jesus already so tired and hurt, bearing not just his physical ailments but also the sins of the world, having a Secret Joy in what He is doing.

On Good Friday Catholics practice fasting and abstinence to do penance for our sins, so that we can be united with the sufferings of Christ. But it is a joyful suffering and penance and one full of gratitude. Unlike the apostles, we know that Jesus has risen. The memory of his death should be solemn and sorrowful for our one sins and that God suffered, but I think that we can also share in the Secret Joy of Jesus in His carrying of The Cross.

Secular Advent Music

When I think of Advent music the first song that comes into my head is O Come, o come, Emmanuel. There are other hymns that are suitable as well, like Come Thou Long Expected Jesus  and Wake, Awake, but these are not what you here on the radio. So, here I am going to give a few ideas for songs to listen to in the more secular line of Advent music:

1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town- Watch out, don’t cry, or else guys. That is the message of this song. 🙂

2. I’ll Be Home for Christmas– This is also an anticipatory song for Advent. It dreams of Christmas and all being together, which are very good values, especially wanting to be with loved ones.

A White Advent.

3. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas– This is definitely for Advent, as once Christmas comes, you can’t really dream of a white Christmas coming.

4. Silver Bells– “Soon it will be Christmas Day.” It is all about shopping, because that is where you hear the silver bells.

Anymore good “secular” Advent songs?

While the secular ones are fun, they do not compare to the depths of the coming of our Savior:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

What does Santa coming with presents have to compare with Jesus coming to bring us eternal life? Snow is a cool gift from God, and very beautiful, but it is not God Himself. Being together on Christmas with gifts for each other is nice, but it does not compare to being together in Heaven. I am struggling to find the value in the seemingly shallow secular celebrations of Christmas, but maybe I should see them as a precursor to the joy that will be eternal life together in Heaven.

Baptised at Last: Cradle Catholics

On Saturday the baby was baptised! Alleluia! She also came down with baby acne. I guess 3-4 weeks is about right for that to show up. We had a wonderful crowd of family and friends at the baptism (a great uncle and aunt with their three kids, three of four grandparents, the aunt and uncle godparents, a cousin plus a number of friends), and it was just a fraction of our Catholic family and friends that were present. M and I are both cradle Catholics and so are our parents. In fact our parents were also raised by cradle Catholics, and so on. The line of cradle Catholics goes back to at least my great grandparents on my side and probably further.

I am so blessed that my faith has been passed down to me from the Apostles through the Church and also from my parents and their parents. For all of high school, my grandmother in St. Louis was in my family’s parish. I would see her every Sunday in the front row and then would catch up with her after Mass. It was such a blessing to share this part of life with her. I have always known my mother’s parents, who live near Cleveland, to go to daily Mass. What great examples of holy lives they have given me. I see their marriage and how well they raised their seven children as an example to me of how to be holy, loving parents and spouses. As Catholics, we look to the lives of the Saints to learn how to love God and be saintly; and I feel so blessed to look to the lives of my people in my family to learn about being holy and Catholic.

It is so easy for cradle Catholics to take their faith and religion for granted; we need to realize that while our faith has been given to us by our parents, it is our responsibility to live the faith. We need to seek to have active prayer lives, go to Mass, have frequent Confessions; without these things, especially with the continued secularization and modernization of society, our faith will quickly fall by the wayside. M and I have discussed how many of the converts to Catholicism we know really know the faith and really care to live it well. Is there something about being raised Catholic that makes it harder for us? We could blame bad catechesis as children, but we are adults, so we need to take responsibility as adults. There are so many resources for learning about the Catholic faith, for example the catechism. Or one could look at New Advent for great resources about the Church.

And as a parent raising three little Catholics, I know the importance of teaching the faith to my children from a young age. I need to be an example of what I teach them in my behavior and in my life of prayer. I am so blessed to be continuing the line of cradle Catholics, and pray that my little ones grow up to bring more converts to the Church.