The Tragic Beauty of the Cross

There is only one way to be saved….period.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”

These words of Christ in John 14:6 are some of the most famous in all of Scripture.

But what most people don’t realize is that Christ declares them at the Last Supper, shortly before the start of his brutal Passion.

In fact, at the end of this chapter, he and the Disciples leave for the Garden of Gethsemane.

And understanding this context puts a little deeper spin on how we understand apply Christ’s declaration. This is no generic call to “seek Christ.”

It’s something far more intense.

He’s calling us to the tragic beauty of the Cross. He’s telling us that in order to be saved, we must be nailed to our crosses in union with His.

We must crush our self-love and mimic the humility of Christ, who

though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

Phil. 2:6-8

And realize that this union with the Cross – this dying to self – to which we’re called is not a one-time event.

It’s a daily picking up of our crosses and following Christ to Calvary.

St. John of the Cross describes our entire to journey to God as a kind of “Dark Night,” in which we are more and more conformed to the crucified Christ.

It sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it? But thank goodness, it’s not the end of the story.

The tragic beauty of the Cross lies in the fact that it’s only the first half of the story.

After the Crucifixion comes the Resurrection.

Good Friday is always followed by Easter. Salvation is at hand!

And the joy of our new life in Christ far outweighs the difficulties and crosses of this earthly life.

That’s the beauty of the Cross. It prepares us for eternal ecstasy.

As St. Paul declares in Romans 8:18, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

So cling to the tragic beauty of the Cross of Christ! Don’t let go! The Son is on the horizon.

Have a blessed Triduum!

Matthew

P.S. It’s coming shortly after Easter! CLICK HERE to sign up for the wait list to be notified when it goes live.

The most dynamic, clearest path to spiritual transformation you’ll find anywhere.” – Mike Aquilina, Author & EWTN Personality

087: How To Think Like a Catholic

Featuring Michael Matheson Miller

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Everything has gone haywire.

At every corner our traditional way of life is being undermined by forces that seem to come from every direction.

It’s a constant assault.

And it’s extremely easy for a Catholic to get caught up in being a “child of the times” without even realizing it.

It’s a slippery slope.

We’ve got to be able to identify and understand the danger and consequences of the ideological war that is attempting to re-define truth, freedom, and reality itself.

So I turned to Michael Matheson Miller for help.

He’s a sought after public speaker, writer, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Acton Institute…and he knows what he’s talking about.

Join us for an expose of the underlying ideas and forces that are seeking to tear apart not just the Church, but the whole world.

Among other things we’ll discuss:

  • What is a “Catholic mind?”
  • Why Pope Benedict XVI said we live in a “Dictatorship of Relativism”
  • Whether Catholicism provides an answer to every question. (The answer may surprise you.)
  • The true definition freedom?
  • Why a lot of respected secular academics believe computers will evolve into conscious beings…seriously.
  • The danger of ideology
  • and a whole lot more…

This is an important episode.

The secularism of the world is not neutral. It’s a specific worldview. And it’s high time we understand it, or we’ll go down the drain with it.

It’s high time to think like a Catholic!

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. It’s coming! CLICK HERE to sign up for the wait list to be notified when it goes live.

The most dynamic, clearest path to spiritual transformation you’ll find anywhere.” – Mike Aquilina, Author & EWTN Personality

The Real Reason God Permits Temptation

Isn’t it funny (and annoying) that those things you gave up for Lent seem to present themselves way more often than normal? People keep offering you that frothy beer or fancy dessert, and you have to give it the old “just say no” Nancy Reagan routine.

And I don’t know about you, but it’s ridiculous how hard I often find it.

(Perhaps traveling to the land of biscotti and cappuccino on pilgrimage during Lent wasn’t my brightest idea.)

Even so, God uses temptations to our great advantage in Lent, as well as the rest of the year.

How? Why?

Well, temptation comes from the Latin tentare, which means “to try” or “to test.” So temptations are a tool God uses to see how we measure up.

“Matthew! Are you saying God actually causes temptation? Doesn’t James 1:13 says, God “tempts no one”?

Yes, it does.

We’re talking here about what are called “temptations of probation” – special trials allowed by God that aren’t encouragement to sin.

(The kind that come from the Devil are called “temptations of solicitation,” with which we’ll deal another time.)

Think of guys like Job and Abraham, or even St. Joseph.

They experienced trials. And so do we.

Why?

It’s pretty simple. God is testing the quality of our love.

He wants to know if you only say you love him at Mass (or on Fat Tuesday), or if you really love Him when the rubber meets the road.

(Of course, he already knows because he’s closer to us than we are to ourselves, as Augustine said. But we still have the free will to act one way or the other. As St. John Chrysostom says, “For we must first choose the good; and then He leads us to His own. He does not anticipate our choice, lest our free-will should be outraged.”)

The great early 20th century theologian, Fr. Francis Remler calls temptations of probation a spiritual acid test.

They expose us like nitric acid poured over fool’s gold.

After all, a lot of people look virtuous.

They’ve got a big breviary with ribbons. A first-class relic of St. Jerome is embedded in the full-grained Italian leather cover of their limited edition Hebrew-Greek Interlinear Bible.

They can even pray over their meal in Latin.

But as far as God’s concerned, actions speak louder than a “Hammer of Heresies” tattoo peeking out from behind a rolled-up shirt sleeve.

He wants to know the true state of your virtue.

That’s the role of these kinds of temptations. God permits them because He wants to know if you practice what you preach.

That’s part of the value of Lent. It’s like a 40 day pass to a spiritual gym.

It’s a time to get pumped up.

And if you aren’t working out your spiritual muscles on a day-to-day basis, you’re going to become a 98lb. spiritual weakling.

I guess you could call God your personal spiritual fitness coach. And by permitting temptation, he not only gets you fit, but provides opportunities to flex your mystical muscle…not for your glory, but for His.

“In this you rejoice,” says St. Peter, “though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pt 1:6-7)

So keep smiling and saying “no thank you” when the dessert tray comes your way in this penitential season.

You’re building virtue that will help you resist larger (and perhaps more dangerous) temptations in the future.

God bless you.

Matthew

P.S. It’s coming! CLICK HERE to sign up for the wait list to be notified when it goes live.

The most dynamic, clearest path to spiritual transformation you’ll find anywhere.” – Mike Aquilina, Author & EWTN Personality