Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reflections on the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery

I just finished reading an enjoyable and thought-provoking book called The Living Wood by Louis de Wohl.  It's historical fiction and tells the fascinating story of St. Helena and her son, St, Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome.  The climax of the story is when St. Helena finds the True Cross on Calvary, which had been hidden for centuries.

This story is especially interesting to me because the little chapel where I attend daily Mass holds a relic of the True Cross.  It fills me with awe that I am participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass right in front of a part of the True Cross on which our Savior died.  When I pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary after Mass, I often focus on the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, The Crucifixion, as I gaze upon the relic of the Tree of Life. 

The Tree of Life represents immortality and is first introduced to us in Genesis 2:9 in the Garden of Eden.  Man lost access to it and Paradise through the sin of Adam and Eve.  The cross on which our Savior died is the new Tree of Life.  Through His Precious Blood, we can now enjoy eternal life in heaven.  Yet we must all take up our own crosses (Luke 9:23) in order to do so.  Our sins added to the burden of that Tree of Life that Our Lord carried to Calvary, but our willing sacrifices can make us like Simon the Cyrenean, helping Jesus along the Via Dolorosa. 

In our modern world, suffering is to be avoided at all costs.  Yet as Catholics, we understand the value of redemptive suffering-- offering up our burdens as a form of penance or for the benefit of others.  It is how we make sense of suffering.  We don't know why God has chosen this particular burden for us, but we can give it back to Him with love just as His Son did on the Tree of Life.

One last note:  Today is the feast of St. Maria Goretti.  She is truly an inspiration of purity, virtue and heroic courage to young girls today.  Read more about this amazing saint at this link.  I think you'll find that her life and death ties in very well with the theme of this post.

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