Thomas A. Droleskey
Each of us
travels down familiar roads every day of our lives. We see familiar
sights. And it is sometimes the case that the very familiarity of the
sights we see every day blinds us to their nuances. There are things
to do and deadlines to meet. The paths we trod become means to various
ends. Indeed, the very routine of life may cause us to curse the paths
which make possible the completion of the responsibilities of our freely
chosen states in life.
sees us walk down the same path year after year. We commemorate the
same events we commemorated the year before - and the year before that.
Its very familiarity can cause us to think that there is little need
to do any more meditation one year than we had the year before. In reality,
however, the very opposite is true: the older we get, the more we realize
how much we have missed on our annual journey down the Via Dolorosa.
For we can never exhaust the depths of the treasures found on the path
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ took to reconcile
us to the Father in Spirit and in Truth on the wood
of the Holy Cross.
the events of Holy Week have been explored in Christ or Chaos
for each of the past eight years, I ask you to join with me once more
as we prepare to walk down the path of Holy Week in the year 2005.
Thirst for Souls
told the Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well that He wanted to drink of
her faith. Our Lord wants to drink of our faith. He thirsted for souls
on the wood of the Holy Cross, and He thirsts for the deepening of our
lives of faith as the holy season of Lent draws to its crescendo during
its final two weeks: Passion Week and Holy Week (which are two distinctive
weeks in the Traditional calendar). No matter how dilatory we may have
been in our Lenten observances prior to that time, we have an opportunity
to use the final two weeks of Lent to withdraw ourselves more and more
from the world, focusing our attention on why Our Lord became Incarnate
in Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb: to pay back to the Father
in His own Sacred Humanity the blood debt of our own sins.
a very important Biblical image. The Jews thirsted for water as they
made their forty year journey in the desert. Indeed, they grumbled against
God and Moses at Meribah and Massah, causing Moses
to lose his patience and blaze with anger against the people he had
been charged with leading from their enslavement to the Pharaoh to the
Promised Land (itself symbolic of the enslavement of mankind to the
devil prior to Our Lord's New and Eternal Passover effected by the shedding
of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross). The Chosen
People thirsted for water to satisfy a need for one of life's basic
necessities. What they did not understand, obviously, was that God thirsted
for their faith in Him, Who had freed them from their cruel slavery
at the hands of the Egyptians, just as God thirsts for our faith in
Him today through His true Church.
think about it, however, only a handful of the Chosen People were ever
given to see things clearly during the course of their Exodus, settlement
in the Promised Land of Cana, the rise of the era of Kings (and the
rise of the Davidic line), the division between the northern and southern
kingdoms, the Babylonian Captivity, their rescue by Cyrus, the King
of Persia, and their resettlement in Palestine prior to the Assyrian
invasion and Roman conquest. Time after time after time, the Old Testament
tells us that the Chosen People had to be reminded by the minor and
major Prophets (Amoz, Hosea, Nathan, Gad, Nahum, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel)
that God was going to save them from their sins. Isaiah's Suffering
Servant songs, which begin at Chapter 51, foretell of the exact way
in which liberation from enslavement to sin would occur.
lamb would be sent to the slaughter, opening not his mouth. By his stripes
we would be healed. He would be thought of as afflicted, as one smitten
by the people, one in whom there was no stately bearing. The people
did not understand. They went about their secular business, not too
differently from how many contemporary Catholics go about their secular
business today, giving the true Faith almost next to no thought as they
do so. And Ezekiel was the instrument God chose to foretell the Resurrection:
"Oh, My people, 'I will open your graves and have you rise from
them" "I will turn your hearts of stone to hearts of flesh'."
of most of the Chosen People in the period prior to Our Lord's Incarnation
in Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb were closed to teach us a
very pointed lesson: faith is a gift which must be cultivated, a gift
we must thirst for with every beat of our hearts. "Like the deer pants
for running water, so our hearts pant for You, O Lord,"
the psalmist tells us. Those who do not thirst for an increase in their
level of faith-their level of trust in the Blessed Trinity as He has
revealed Himself through His true Church - will have their faith atrophy
and be replaced by a disordered trust in one's own self and/or the things,
people, places, ideas, and allurements of this passing world. The Jews
of the Old Testament, at least, had an excuse for their blindness in
that their souls were still captive to the devil by means of Original
Sin. We have no such excuse, do we?
of us who are baptized Catholics have been given true spiritual sight
through no merits of our own. Each one of our sins, however, can blind
us more and more to the extent to which we must thirst for an increase
in faith, an increase in hope, and an increase in charity. Each one
of our sins can lead us away from the Divine Lover who is with unsurpassed
love in every tabernacle in every Catholic Church in the world, His
Real Presence being signified by a red lamp, itself indicative of the
ardor of His love for us. Our sins, though, oh, how our sins can make
us as blind as the Jews who lived at the time of Our Lord's Passion
and Death. Indeed, it was our sins (having transcended time) which helped
to keep most of the Chosen People from seeing the truth that Truth Himself
had been made flesh and had come to earth to pay back in His own Sacred
Humanity the blood debt of their own (and our own) sins.
must truly thirst to look at the events of Holy Week with renewed faith,
hope, and love. We must not trudge our way through the end of a six
week period of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and mortification. We must
enter deep into the mysteries contained within the week during which
time the new Adam canceled out the sin of the old Adam, stretching out
His arms on the wood of the Holy Cross to embrace the whole of humanity
for all eternity to lift it up on the vertical beam to the Father in
Spirit and in Truth. Holy Week is a summary of the life story of each
person. And we must thirst to see our life story contained in all of
times we welcome the Lord with joy, just as the crowd welcomed Him with
joy on Palm Sunday, shortly after Jesus of Nazareth had raised His friend
Lazarus from the dead. It is so very easy to welcome
the miracle worker, so very difficult to stand by the foot of the Cross
and to be known as a friend and as a disciple of One hated and reviled
by all of your friends. Yes, it is easy to praise the Name of the Lord.
It is so much more difficult to embrace His cross, accept His Holy Truths
in a spirit of humility and docility, and unite one's self fully to
the Cross as the only means by which we can help to repair the damage
we have done to our own spiritual sight by our sins.
times when we are Judas Iscariot. There are times we take the thirty
pieces of silver (sometimes quite literally) to betray Our Lord and
to satisfy some longing of ours (illicit pleasure, job security, family
peace, financial advancement, human respect). We just turn away, placing
our trust in the things of this world (politics, political ideologies,
politicians, programs, our own ingenuity and supposed cleverness, technology)
to resolve the problems which are only remediable by means of the cooperation
of individual souls with the graces won for them on the wood of the
Holy Cross by the Theandric Person, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
times when we want to stay in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, soaking in
the words of Our Lord's last discourse (in which He pointedly told us
that we would be hated by all on account of Him and His Holy Name),
marveling at the wonder of how the simple elements of the earth can
be transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-Man,
Who promised that He would give us the True Manna come down from Heaven
Which is His own Flesh and His own Blood. And then there are the times
we want to flee from that Upper Room, preferring to hunger and to thirst
for the food and drink of this world, treating those who serve us our
sumptuous meals far better than we treat the priests (spiritual descendants
of those ordained at the Last Supper) who make possible for us the nourishment
of our souls with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-Man.
times when we are very much with Our Lord in His Agony in the Garden
of Gethsemani. There are times when we do indeed meditate upon the fact
that He suffered His Agony in the Garden because He feared in His Sacred
Humanity coming into contact with the very antithesis of His Sacred
Divinity: sin. However, there are the times when we are very much like
Peter, James, and John, each of whom fell fast asleep as the Master
sweated droplets of His Most Precious Blood, seeing each of the sins
of every human being who had ever lived, lived contemporaneously during
His life, and who would live until the end of time. Indeed, most of
the time we are fast asleep when we should be vigilant and alert in
prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
times when we want to flee from Our Lord, just as all but one of the
Apostles did. We do not want to profess His Holy Name publicly. We do
not want to work for the establishment of His Social Kingship and to
restore the primacy of the See of Peter as the ultimate arbiter on matters
of faith and morals - and on matters of fundamental justice. We just
want to keep our mouths shut and to keep out of trouble, just as the
Apostles left Our Lord to be manhandled by the Sanhedrin prior to the
night He spent in prison, alone and abandoned.
Most of all,
though, we live our lives in the crowd. For the same crowd which cried
out "Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord"
on Palm Sunday called out for Our Lord's Crucifixion just
five days later. We human beings are pretty fickle. So quick to condemn,
so slow to forgive, especially when it comes to our own family members
and friends. Some grudge, real or imagined, causes us to denounce and
reject a family member or friend, a fellow human being made in the image
and likeness of the Triune God and redeemed by the God-Man on the heights
of Golgotha. "Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren, that you
do unto Me." How slow we are to see Him in
the people are who closest to us.
In His ineffable
mercy, however, God always wants to draw us close to Him. While it is
true that our sins placed us on the wrong side of the Cross on Good
Friday, Our Lord has given us a chance to be present with Him every
day of our lives (except for Good Friday and Holy Saturday) as His One
Sacrifice to the Father in Spirit and in Truth is re-presented in an
unbloody manner on an altar of Sacrifice in Holy Mass. Every Mass we
hear affords us the opportunity to meditate upon the sufferings Our
Lord endured in order to fulfill the Father's will that we might be
reconciled to Him through the shedding of the Blood of the true Passover
thirsted for souls not only on Good Friday. He thirsts for souls yet.
He thirsts for souls to be present at Holy Mass in a spirit of recollection
and silence. He thirsts for souls to pray and to work for the restoration
of the liturgy in the Latin rite which more perfectly and more beautifully
conveys the sacredness of the events in which our redemption was wrought
for us by Him. He thirsts for souls to meditate upon how He redeemed
every single suffering of our lives through the suffering our sins imposed
upon Him in His Sacred Humanity. There is nothing any of us can endure
(no bodily pain, no terminal disease, no rejection, no failure, no loss
of material goods) which is the equal of what one of our venial sins
caused Him to suffer in His Passion and Death. He thirsts for us to
realize this, interiorize it, and to live it out more fully with every
beat of our hearts, consecrated as they must be to the Immaculate Heart
of His Most Blessed Mother and to His own Most Sacred Heart. And He
thirsts for us to be the administrators of the Divine Mercy He extended
to us so freely as He made excuses for His executioners (namely, us):
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."
He thirsts for us to do the same.
also thirsts for us to be totally consecrated to His Most Blessed Mother's
Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Our Lady stood so valiantly by the foot
of the Cross as she watched the fruit of her virginal and immaculate
womb suffer the ravages that our sins imposed upon Him. Our Lord thirsts
for us to go to Him through His Mother's Immaculate Heart, just as He
came into the world through her to effect our redemption. We cannot
possibly understand the sorrows and the triumph of Holy Week if we are
not totally consecrated to Our Lady, placing ourselves completely under
her maternal protection as we endeavor to cooperate with the graces
won for us by her Divine Son as He re-created us on the wood of the
Holy Cross. She was present at the foot of the Cross. She is present
during every celebration of Holy Mass. She prays for us to have a thirst
for the things of eternity, to thirst for the salvation of our souls,
to thirst to grow in sanctity, and to thirst to be known proudly as
the children she gave spiritual birth to in great pain and sorrow. She
is our Co-Redemptrix. She is the Mediatrix of all graces, as she proclaimed
to Saint Catherine Laboure.
People thirsted for water but died nevertheless. The Samaritan woman
was told she would be given water and never be thirsty again. We know
that Our Lord has given us the Church, conceived out of the elements
of Blood and Water that poured forth from His Wounded Side, to be the
means by which our thirst for the truths of the Faith are always quenched.
The Holy Ghost, Who is the Vivifier (the Lifegiver), means to thirst
for a greater love of the Cross, being ever ready to embrace It, ever
ready to see on It the One Who has liberated us from the power of sin
and death - and to see beneath It the woman who wants us to rely upon
her maternal intercession to thirst each day for a greater love for
her Son through her as sons and daughters of the true Church.
where is thy victory? Death, where is Thy sting?"
Our Lord's death on the Holy Cross, which seemed to the world His ultimate
failure, is the means of our passageway to eternal life. It is also
the means by which we come to know who we are - and how we are to treat
all others in a spirit of mercy and true love for the welfare of their
on the Resurrection will be saved for next Sunday, March 27, Easter
Sunday. The reflections being posted today, including this one, aim
at providing some food for thought as we walk through the holiest week
of the year, being prepared to thirst to make it the best Holy Week
of our lives. And we must continue to pray for Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo,
who is literally thirsting for hydration as she is starved and dehydrated
death while efforts are being made to reinstate her food and water tubes.
She is indeed a victim soul who is suffering with the One Who thirsted
for souls on the wood of the Holy Cross.
of Sorrows, pray for us.