The Road to Jerusalem

We begin Passiontide on Sunday, the final part of Lent which is the immediate preparation for the celebration of the Easter Triduum. In consideration of this, I thought I would direct our Third Thursday Mens’ Discussion Group up the path toward Jersusalem.

By the way, we will be live-streaming the meeting, which will begin at 8:10 PM, Eastern Time (Thursday, March 18), and end at approximately 9:30 PM. Any male reader of this blog is welcome to join in. You will be able to see and hear the live video and  to participate via chat. You will need a link and a password, which you may obtain by emailing me at mv@figuadalupe.com. Please put “Live-Stream” in the subject field.

Christ our High priest, walked along the Road to Jerusalem with his eyes wide open. In fact, when Peter remonstrated with him, Our Lord ostracized him and told the other eleven that if they did not come with Him they could forget the whole thing. No one took Our Lord’s life from Him, as he said. He laid it down freely, even though as God he saw clearly what it was through which He was to pass.  He would not shrink from it and He would not candy coat it for His followers.

One of the worst things about suffering and the thing, perhaps, from which we recoil most of all, is the solitude of suffering. It seems to be the worst when there can be no real commiseration, as when a loved one dies and we are left alone, or when we are confronted with a critical illness, or when we carry a heavy responsibility. Even when we share a tragedy in common with family or friends, our own inner confrontation with reality is unique and no one can bring resolution but ourselves. And the more interior the suffering is the worse the predicament in which we find ourselves.

But Our Lord embraced not only the horror of his murder, but the mental anguish of our betrayal and our guilt. He became the scapegoat for our sins, a curse for our sake, by assuming our guilt. He felt the guilt keenly for sins he did not commit, whereas we make light of them. He willingly entered in to our misery out of love for us, as we shrink from toil and effort to correct our faults. Read this and weep—seriously.

Father Daniel Lord, S.J. writes that, like the knights errant of Arthurian legend, Christ fought alone, suffered alone, persevered alone. His companions abandoned him and while His Mother was his stalwart companion and monolith of solidarity, Her broken heart just broke His even more. No one could bear His sorrow or carry His burden, but Her.  The love between them was a martyrdom, more for their great union of purpose and determination.

We find so many reasons to excuse ourselves when we suffer, we find so many reasons to complain. Where do we find the courage to suffer like a man—like the God-man? Only in the mystery of the Cross, which is the theme of the coming two weeks.

The crusaders died to arrive at the source of their devotion, Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulcher, but their path lead first to Calvary and some of them only saw the glory of the risen Christ after they had endured great personal suffering, and some only after the ultimate sacrifice.

Hope to see you at the discussion.

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The Knight and His Supreme Model

Dawn Eden has written an essay for Headline Bistro about Father Daniel A. Lord, S.J.(1888-1955) and his witness to the value of suffering—a valuable contribution, especially in the light of all the horrific suffering in Haiti.

From Dawn I have learned about a wonderful little book written by Father Lord,  Christ Jesus our King:  A Eucharistic Prayer Book, a kind of handbook for “The Knights and handmaids of the Blessed Sacrament.” This Eucharistic association was founded by Father Edmund Lester, S.J. in 1914  to encourage young men receive communion at least weekly in order to lead a life modeled on Christ according to the highest ideals of chivalry.  In 1917 the association was extended to women.

The little book of Father Lord deserves much attention and will get it here in time.  (I already have an unfulfilled blogging commitment.)  For now I reproduce part of a chapter entitled “Jesus Christ the Perfect Knight”:

Knighthood is not something won on the battelfield and awarded the accolade of the broadsword’s dubbing the armored shoulder.  It is not a matter of gold spurs and splendid trapping.

A knight may wear coveralls and ride an ancient coupe.  Knighthood may be as modern as the evening’s newspaper, as prosaic as a paycheck handed to a wife by her husband, as far from battle as the teller’s window in an uptown bank, as unknown to history or poetry as a single rose placed at the bedside of a new mother.

Every Knight, whatever his age occupation, or costume, has certain easily distinguishable characteristics:

A knight is dedicated to the slaying of the dragon of evil.

A knight is an individualist fighting, not in the serried ranks of a disciplined army, but alone.

A knight hates injustice and battles the unjust, loves innocence and protects human needs.

A knight may be harsh with the strong; he is gentle with the weak.

A knight knows that he is on a level with those who are better armed and with those who need the arms he carries.

A knight’s honor is high; he would rather lose a battle than win it by trickery, dishonesty or lies.

Above all a knight respects and honors women for their virginity, their motherhood, their meaning to the human race, their purpose for life today and in the future.

A knight has high courage that never admits that a cause is lost.

A knight’s ideal is to do all thing well.

Christ the Supreme Knight

Never in His life did Jesus wear armor.

Never did He wield a sword.  He did not break the bruised reed or extinguish the smoking flax.

He spoke the endless call to peace—through he knew that in the end He would bring for His followers, not peace, but the sword.

Yet His whole life conformed to our standards of truest knighthood.

Alone and far in advance of all others, Jesus is the true knight without fear or reproach,  His own knightly practice was the standard for His followers.  He challenged them to be perfect as His heavenly Father was perfect, to match His simple formula, which He lived out—to do the things that pleased His Father.