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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Framing Prayer 12 Carmelites and The Cross

St. Teresa Benedicta is, indeed, a saint for our time. In April of 1933, Hitler enforced a law that no Jews could hold a university position. On August 9th, 1942, St. Teresa Benedicta was killed in a gas chamber at Birkenau, Auschwitz. There can be no doubt that this saint knew the coming of her end. We see this in her studies on the sufferings and Cross of Christ.

For the lay person, meditation cannot be seen as an option, as I have noted on this blog since 2012, and as Father Dan emphasized yesterday.

St. Teresa Benedicta's thoughts on the Cross can help any lay person with the growing darkness of our nation, of our world.

Today, I wonder whether I shall ever see my dear son again, if circumstances will prevent me from sharing his life, and even sharing his or my death.

By concentrating on the Cross, at a time, when as the saint notes, "...the need and misery, and the abyss of human malice, again and again dampens jubilation over the victory of light. The world is still deluged by mire, and still only a small flock has escaped from it to the highest mountain peaks. The battle between Christ and the Antichrist is not yet over. The followers of Christ have their place in this battle, and their chief weapon is the cross."

"What does this mean? The burden of the cross that Christ assumed is that of corrupted human nature, with all its consequences in sin and suffering to which fallen humanity is subject. The meaning of the cross is to carry this burden out of the world. The restoration of freed humanity to the heart of the heavenly Father, taking on the status of a child, is the free gift of grace, of merciful love. But this may not occur at the expense of divine holiness and justice. The entire sum of human failures from the first Fall up to the Day of Judgment must be blotted out by a corresponding measure of expiation."

"The way of the cross is this expiation...The Saviour is not alone on the way of the cross...Everyone who, in the course of time, has borne an onerous destiny in remembrance of the suffering Saviour, or who has freely taken up works of expiation has by doing so cancelled some of the heavy load of human sin and has helped the Lord carry his burden."

What St. Teresa Benedicta is writing about is reparation...follow the tags for more of my blogs on this. We have forgotten what it means to be joined to the suffering of Christ. And, this is an honor. To be ask to join with Christ in his passion may be one of the greatest graces of our times.

The following words are astounding. "Or rather, Christ the head effects expiation in these members of his Mystical Body who put themselves body and soul at his disposal for carrying out his work of salvation."

Christ reaching out to us on the Cross is not only a comfort, but a sign of our duty to suffer with and in him.

The saint continues, "The lovers of the cross whom he has awakened and will always continue to awaken anew in the changeable history of the struggling Church, these are his allies at the end of time. We, too, are called to that purpose."

Many of us are suffering at this time of growing paganism, of the surety of the loss of freedoms, of the prospect of imprisoned priests and harassed laity.  St. Theresa Benedicta's world was similar to ours--a time of growing tyranny and ruthlessness towards a particular religion, a specific culture.

The parallels strike us as not only timely, but a necessary meditation for us to ponder at this crossroad of history.

"Voluntary expiatory suffering is what truly unites one to the Lord intimately. When it arises, it comes from an already existing relationship with Christ. For, by nature, a person flees from suffering. And the mania for suffering caused by a perverse lust for pain differs completely from the desire to suffer in expiation....Only someone whose spiritual eyes have been opened to the supernatural correlation of worldly events can desire suffering  in expiation, and this is only possible for people in whom the spirit of Christ dwells, who as members are given life by the Head, receive his power, his meaning, and his direction. Conversely, works of expiation  bind one closer to Christ, as every community that works together on more task becomes more and more closely knit and as the limbs of a body, working together organically, continually become more strongly one."

I hope readers see that this is the time to consider reparation and expiation as part of our daily prayer.

St. Teresa Benedicta continues.....

"But because being one with Christ is our sanctity, and progressively becoming one with him our happiness on earth, the love of the cross in no way contradicts being a joyful child of God. Helping Christ carry his cross fills one with a strong and pure joy, and those who may and can do so, the builders of God's kingdom, are the most authentic children of God....."

She notes that Good Friday is not over....then, she states:

"Only those who are saved, only children of grace, can in fact be bearers of Christ's cross. Only in union with the Divine Head does human suffering take on expiatory power.."

It seems to me that the lay person would find this spiritual insight an easy path to follow in prayer and reflection. Are there not many who suffer daily now? Will not this suffering increase? Can we not use this suffering to join with Christ, "in union" with him and thereby become saints?

Perhaps the daily meditations demanded by our lives as Catholics can be focused on the Passion and Death of Christ. Many saints recommend thinking on the cross as a way to salvation.

St. Theresa Benedicta shows us that in times of great hardship, one can turn suffering into joy, and pain into reparation.

Two more posts on this saint.....