Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Feast Day thoughts, Part I

Today is the Triumph of the Holy Cross. Seventeen years ago today, the community received official notification from Bishop Victor Balke of Crookston, MN, that the monastery could be formally erected under Canon Law. Hence, the name of our Monastery and our Feast day.

So many of the texts and gestures of today's celebration resonate with Holy Week and is a good reminder that even here in the middle of the most unfortunately-named "Ordinary Time", what is ordinary for Christians is life under the sign of the cross. Too often, Ordinary Time is just time for gettin' down to business, out from under the load of obligations imposed by the liturgical seasons. We can forget that our life is no longer ours and that this ransoming of sinners is the basis for our joyful freedom as God's people. Real freedom is 'cruciform life', life according to the Holy Cross.

Last night, we carried on a tradition that has lasted at least ten years, that of celebrating Byzantine Vespers and the Veneration of the Cross. It is always moving, both on Good Friday and at this feast, to watch the faithful come forward, prostrate themselves and then kiss the cross. In a world that preaches self-esteem, the good life, and social status by means of SUV's, ipods, tummy tucks and face lifts, the gesture of self-abnegation involved in saying to Christ: "You are the Way, the Truth and Life; I worship you as my Lord," is radically countercultural.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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