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Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross 2008

 
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Fr.Paul Weinberger
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Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 199
Location: Greenville, Texas

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:11 pm    Post subject: Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross 2008 Reply with quote

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross 2008

Father Paul Weinberger
Saint William the Confessor Catholic Church
Greenville, Texas

September 14, 2008

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone, who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen

Today Pope Benedict is in Lourdes, France. He arrived in time for this Feast day and tomorrow’s Feast Day as well. Today is the Triumph of the Cross and tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, there at the foot of the Cross.

Many times the Holy Father has said that the message of Lourdes is a message for modern times, and yet it was 150 years ago. Whatever is true does not have an expiration date and so the Holy Father declaring that the message of Lourdes is a message for modern times should give us reason to contemplate this particular event in the history of salvation.

The central figure is St. Bernadette, who was fourteen when the Blessed Mother appeared to her. St. Bernadette and her family were not one of the richest families in Lourdes. Her father owned the mill and had extended credit to so many people who did not pay, that he and his wife and children had to become the lowest in the town. They took up residence in the basement of a jail, which had been condemned.

On February 11th, 150 years ago, St. Bernadette and a couple of her friends went out near the river to look for wood. High in the Pyrenees Mountains you would look for anything to burn; she was looking for wood and also animal bones. I guess animal bones burn. I have never been that cold, but if you are cold you will put whatever you can find on the fire.

St. Bernadette was separated from her friends when she heard the rustling of the wind, or that is what it appeared to be. She looked up to see if the leaves on the trees were moving and they were not and that is when her eyes saw a beautiful lady above, standing in a hollow in the rock in a cave on the bank of the river. The beautiful lady was dressed in white with a blue sash around her waist and over her arm was a very pale yellow rosary. There were two pale yellow roses on top of each foot. Fortunately for us Our Lady appeared to a young lady and not a young man; we’d have none of these details, right?

The beautiful lady, as St. Bernadette described her, made a gesture and St. Bernadette followed the gesture. They began to pray the rosary together. The beautiful lady took the rosary and traced the sign of the Cross on her body. St. Bernadette reached into her pocket, pulled out her rosary and did the same thing. St. Bernadette made the Sign of the Cross well, as opposed to doing it in a haphazard and sloppy fashion, which every one of us is capable of doing.

Yesterday we began CCD and that is where we began with grades one, two, three, and four. Here is Church we began with the Sign of the Cross. Today’s Feast Day as I mentioned already, is the Triumph of the Cross. These children were taught to make the Sign of the Cross and make it well and with which hand to use. They were taught how to trace on themselves the Sign of the Cross. How many times in a day do people say that they have no time for prayer and yet each one of us can trace the Sign of the Cross on our bodies and that in itself is a prayer. In fact, to help the children understand what they were doing I used this cross to show them and now you, that we are actually taking and tracing on our bodies this instrument of torture, which has become the key to our salvation.

The beautiful lady appeared to St. Bernadette eighteen times over a two-week period. Many of those times St. Bernadette had the same question for the beautiful lady. “Please tell me your name.” Exactly nine months before Christmas, on March 25, 1858, the beautiful lady told her. She identified herself as the “Immaculate Conception.” The beautiful lady said many other things to St. Bernadette but one stands out in front of all the others. She said, “I do not promise you happiness in this life, only in the next.”

The readings today are taken from the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, and when we experience the Cross in our lives we are surprised. How easy it is for us to follow what the Israelites did in the First Reading. With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us up from Houston, uh…Egypt to die in this desert where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food.” The only thing that has changed is that centuries have gone by and like a bad shoe hurting your foot, you begin to complain. We begin to complain when the cross is part of our day.

What if you had a son or daughter contemplating marriage and as you overheard the two speaking of marriage and painting married life as though it were idyllic and perfect and didn’t include any suffering or pain…the cross, you’d bring them up to speed really quickly, wouldn’t you? That is why in the vows for marriage you hear, “In good times and in bad, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as we both shall live.” Isn’t that truth in advertising? Isn’t that saying that we recognize that the cross is going to be an intimate part of our lives? Of course it is, and anyone approaching marriage without the cross is approaching something else; it is not marriage but a fantasy.

The fact that St. Bernadette, after the beautiful lady appeared to her, lived those words of Our Lady. “I do not promise you happiness in this life, only in the next.” Even when she went to the convent at Nevers, it appeared that very good people, who were living with her, were torturing her. For example, St. Bernadette could barely read or write; she was very uncultured…unlettered. One of Bernadette’s superiors, Mother Marie Therese Vauzous was everything the saint was not. She was an accomplished musician and familiar with literature as well as everything having to do with manners. Mother Therese could not understand why the Blessed Mother would appear to Bernadette and not to her. Whenever St. Bernadette was asked, “Why you?” She would answer the same. “Because there was no one in Lourdes more unworthy.” So, she was not gilding the lily. She understood that the Blessed Mother wished to be near her as St. Bernadette carried her cross.

The expectations that we have in life are so unrealistic; we complain at the end of a day when cross after cross has been presented to us, and like the Israelites in the First Reading, if we are followers of Christ, who was nailed to a cross and somehow, “He deserved it and I don’t.” That is amazing and we are tempting God to give us the same fate. You saw what happened in the First Reading and how God sent them seraph serpents, which bit them. Many of them died and the others ran back to Moses and told him that they had sinned in complaining against the Lord and told him to pray that the Lord take the serpent from them. We know better; I know better.

Many of you may not realize it but I am an expert in forecasting the weather. I am a skilled meteorologist. I will give you an example. A while back there were two years when we had a draught. We asked why God wasn’t sending us rain; we needed it so badly. But it was a blessing if you recall because the 3rd year we got so much rain that every lake in the state of Texas was full or above full. If we had not had those two years of draught we would have had terrible floods throughout the entire state. As it is right now it is very localized. You see why I keep my second job as a priest; I am terrible at meteorology so I will remain a priest. We think we can see through the events that beset our loved ones or us and yet we are just as much in the dark as they are. Perhaps it is a blessing.

Whenever God sends us a cross He is sending us a blessing and it is not easy to see, but either we are Christians or we aren’t. To know that if we are being sent a cross is to know then that we are in good company. Maybe you have a devotion to St. Joseph, the Foster Father of Jesus, the husband of Mary, and you ask for his intercession for a happy death because the Church contends that when he died sometime between the Finding of Jesus in the Temple and the Public Life of Jesus, St. Joseph died. On one side of St. Joseph was Jesus and on the other side was Our Lady. This statue here is of the Immaculate Conception and we are in the Holy Year of the Immaculate Conception, which started December 8, 2007. Here is the cross, the Crucifix. Anywhere you find Jesus on the cross you find Our Lady, and if I am in between these two I am in the best of company.

”Oh, but it hurts so much!”

Exactly! It does, and I am not playing that down at all, but either we recognize that God is going to use this cross and every other cross that comes my way, not to lead me to death but to lead me to eternal life. You see many times in the Gospel where Jesus mentions that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life. We have a fascination with death and the culture of death. If you happen to live in an area where a sinkhole has opened up and you can’t find your son, you go over by the sinkhole and there he is peering into it. You realize how dangerous it is and you make him get away from it. But the child is fascinated and it is the same thing when someone is tearing down a building or digging a deep hole for a new building. Boys are drawn to these things like magnets. It is the same thing as an adult; we are fascinated by death and the culture of death and yet, that is not what God calls us to. He calls us to eternal life and the cross is the narrow gate through which He leads us to Heaven, to eternal life.

I know what you are thinking!

“Yes, Jesus deserved it but not me!”

How ridiculous is that? Of course He didn’t deserve it, but He accepted it! What good parents, priests, or sisters have repeated so often is something, which we should continue to repeat…offer it up! Accept the cross and the good company while offering it up and one day the cross will lead you all the way to Heaven.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone, who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen
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