A Cross-Shaped Love: Weekly Message for 04-12-2022

Faith, Hope, and Love abide, these three… (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Dear Friends in Christ,

Love, in the end, is always cruciform. Perhaps that is what T.S. Eliot means in his magnificent Four Quartets when he observes that

To apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint
No occupation either, but something given
And taken, in a lifetime’s death in love
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender. 

No matter how hard we seek substitutes, only this sort of love satisfies. No matter how much we flee a cross-shaped love, peace will elude us until we accept it. And the first step to acceptance is to ponder the mystery of God’s love for us, the God who loves us and gives himself for us. 

St. John puts it well. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he has loved us and sent his Son to be the atonement for our sins” (1 John 4:10). In other words, we can love with a cruciform love because first, last, and always, we are loved that way by God. 

As the holiest days of the year draw near, the Church invites us to contemplate this overwhelming love, to accept it, and to respond. I can think of no better expression than St Anthony of Padua’s Sermones Dominicales et Festivi in which he writes: “Christ who is your life is hanging before you, so that you may look at the Cross as in a mirror… If you look closely, you will be able to realize how great your human dignity and value are… Nowhere other than looking at himself in the mirror of the Cross can man better understand how much he is worth.” 

And by God’s grace that understanding will lead to acceptance, and that acceptance will lead to response, so that we, too, can love God and others with a cross-shaped love.

May you rest in the love of Christ this holiest of weeks,

Fr. John Pietropaoli, LC

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