By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC
One of the more meaningful and fulfilling parts of the Catholic doctrine that is not well developed in other Christian denominations is the incredible value of suffering. Sadly many Christians believe that Jesus suffered and died for us so that we would not have to suffer at all. While Jesus did suffer and die to save us and that the redeemed will one day have every tear wiped from their eyes, our path of salvation to the final, eternal reward in this life is to follow in His footsteps. Christ promised us that, if we are truly His disciples, we will suffer just as He did. Suffering for a Catholic is never meaningless; it is always meant for the sanctification of our souls and to prepare us for heaven, no matter what form it takes: sickness, financial troubles, emotional turmoil, family strife, religious persecution, natural disasters, government oppression and so on. Whether we will it or not, we must suffer. There are some who suffer like the good thief, others like the bad thief. They both suffer equally. Only one knew how to make his suffering meritorious and accept them in spirit of reparation. Jesus said to him, “This day you will be with Me in Paradise.” The other, on the contrary, cried out, uttered blasphemies, and expired in the most frightful despair. There are two ways of suffering: Suffering with love and suffering without love. The saints suffered everything with joy and patience, because they loved. We suffer with anger, because we do not love. If we loved God, we should love crosses and be happy to be able to suffer for the love of Him who lovingly suffered for us. The Cross is consoling! But, we must love while we suffer, and suffer while we love. On the Way to the Cross, only the first step is painful.
Our greater Cross is the fear of Crosses. Most men turn their backs to Crosses. The more they run, the more the Cross pursues them. He who goes out to meet the Cross and embraces it courageously is purified and detached from this world. The Christian lives in the midst of Crosses as the fish lives in the sea. When the good God sends us Crosses, we resist, we complain, we murmur and we are so adverse to whatever contradicts us that we want to be always in a box of cotton, but we ought to be put into a box of thorns. It is by the Cross that we will go to heaven. Illness, temptations and troubles are so many Crosses which will take us to Heaven. Our Lord is our model. Let us take up the Cross and follow Him who has gone before us. The Cross is the ladder to Heaven. The Cross gave peace to the world; it must bring peace to our hearts. Nothing makes us more like our Lord than carrying His Cross. We must never question where our Crosses come from. They come from God. It is always God who is giving us this way of proving our love for Him. One of the greatest gifts in Heaven’s treasury is an understanding of the Way of the Cross, a love for trials and sufferings. If we could just spend a week in heaven we should understand the value of our moments in suffering.
Bangalore – St. Guanella Mercy Church celebrated Holy week in a prayerful manner. It was more meaningful that the entire community participated with great joy and enthusiasm throughout the events during Lent. The Way of the Cross was organized and led weekly by each different group. Each day of Holy Week was planned and executed in a way that set a bench mark for us. Both Tamil and English Masses were well attended. Mass of the Lord’s Supper and washing of the feet went well. On Good Friday the confreres, Cooperators, GLM and parishioners enacted the passion of Christ as a live Skit, touching many hearts. The scene at Calvary could be visualized by everyone who participated. Veneration of the Holy Cross followed in a service combining Tamil and English. The Easter Vigil was solemnly celebrated by the presenting of the Resurrection in an imaginative way, with thunder our Lord rose in Glory. The faithful reacted by singing the Gloria. The house was decorated beautifully with lights and flowers for this glorious occasion. After Mass we shared Easter eggs, cake and milk.
Manila – The Way of the Cross this year was a bit different than past years. For this year, they related the events to modern daily life circumstances so that the people could understand more genuinely what Christ’s Passion means for each of us. On April 12th, the way of the cross was held in the different areas of the servants of charity compound. The event was presented by the Guanellian Youth Ministry (GYM), Guanellian Altar Servers’ Guild, Guanellian Oratorio Ministry, some from the Guanellian Lectors and Commentators and the seminarians. Though not trained actors, they effectively portrayed the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice. The goal of the presentation was achieved, and the audience deeply understood the Lord’s loving sacrifice for us. Fr. Charlton Viray congratulated everyone who participated and those who exerted efforts that made the event a successful one.
Thalavadi – The point of Lent is to have a reoriented life towards God. This reorientation is more powerful when it is done with desert and wilderness. This is what the community experienced in the Lenten journey. The Nazareth Illam community joined the Lenten spiritual journey that was arranged by one of the parishes in the Thalavadi vicariate. Fr. Lawrence, Fr. Gabriel, Bro. Arun, Bro. Arul Claret OMI, staff and residents participated in the journey with full devotion. They climbed the mountain top which is about a 5 km journey, by reciting the rosary and praying the Way of the Cross. Other faithful from different parishes also took part in this Lenten journey. All classes of people prayed piously and walked through the jungle, thorn and bushes, showing a thirst for God and the unity of people. After climbing to the top of the hill, the gathering celebrated the sacrament of reconciliation and continued the Holy Eucharistic celebration that was a beautiful experience of God’s mercy and His presence. Afterwards the village people provided lunch to all the faithful. This Lenten journey helped them to experience the re-LENT-less love of God.
Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mt 4:4). Pilgrimage to Marian Shrines is spiritual food that nourishes our soul. I accompanied a group of pilgrims to Medjugorje November 1st-5th. With deeply motivated spiritual quest we all participated in the spiritual activities such as Holy Mass, Eucharistic adoration, Confession, Veneration of the Cross, Way of the Cross, climbing to the mountain of the White Cross, Holy Rosary climbing to the mountain of Apparition. We were also enriched by an organized meditation of the Marian Way of the Cross and by a witness of conversion. Above all we were really blessed to participate in the apparition of Mary, Queen of Peace to Myriyam. Though disturbed by photographs and videos, I just closed my eyes and experienced the atmosphere of peace during the time of apparition. Then Myriyam communicated the message that has been translated into many languages and announced to the people over there. I thank God for this gracious moment and thank Mother Mary for her motherly blessings.
If only man accepts her invitation to fight against evil with five spiritual arms, he will definitely find peace and he will lead a meaningful life on earth according to the will of the Heavenly Father. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground (Eph 6:12-13).
Fr. A.M. Arokiadoss, SdC
Vatluru – The Paschal Mysteries were celebrated in a meaningful way at Sacred Heart Parish. Holy Thursday ceremonies were celebrated by Fr. Joseph Peter with Fr. Shantham as preacher. A large number of people participated and witnessed the Rite of the Washing of the Feet. On Good Friday, as is the custom of the Parish, the Way of the Cross began at 7am and the people went in procession throughout the village. At Vatluru center gate, Fr. Joseph Peter gave a speech on the Passion of the Lord. Adoration of the Holy Cross began at 2:45 pm in the church and the people meditatively participated. The Easter Vigil Mass began at 11pm, the paschal candle was lit and the people went in procession towards the altar with candles in hand. The grounds were packed for this serene and meaningful celebration. A few adults and babies were baptized during the Mass. The celebration concluded by setting off firecrackers.
Chennai – On March 4th a Lenten pilgrimage was organized for Don Guanella Special School Staff and Special Children. They prayed for world peace and the good health of the students. During the pilgrimage four different parishes were visited; and the Way of the Cross recited alternatively in each parish. Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Parutipattu, was the first stop, then to Kamaraj Nagar Mangala Annai Parish, proceeding next to Amala Annai Parish, J.P Estate and concluding the pilgrimage at St. Antony’s Shrine, Avadi.
Cuddalore – “Thalirgum Siluvai Maram,” a new book on the Way of the Cross, was released by Guanellian Publications on March 5th, Ash Wednesday. The book contains six different reflections on the Way of the Cross: the view of Jesus Christ (Fr. Antony Samy, SdC), a Marian perspective (Fr. Adaikalam, SdC), the Gospel narrative (Fr. John Paul Britto, SdC), the social point of view (Fr. Rajesh, SdC), the perspective of suffering (Rev. Sr. Pushpa, DSMP) and the youth perspective (Fr. Louis, SdC). It also contains Holy Week liturgies, Mass and reading introductions, sermons, model for Maundy Thursday Adoration, other commentaries and Lenten songs. The book was sold out in the first week. This first initiative by Guanella Publications was a great success.