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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Time to Pray, Fast and Offer Sacrifice

Painful truths are coming forward and evil swoops down like a terror of the night. Apostles have betrayed the Church. Abuse. Denial. Fear. Silence. Confusion. Rancor. Yet this terror does not get the last word—and will never be victorious. Let us instead attend to the heart of God and be concerned about what concerns Him. Let us console the heart of Christ over the plight of His mystical Body, the Church—over the wounds suffered by the powerless and vulnerable, the lowly and humble. For God weeps for them—and so should we. He sought us out in our brokenness. Now it is time for us to stand with Him and makes space in our lives for Him to act. What do we do to console the heart of Christ, we who have no ecclesiastical power or authority? Obviously, walls of secrecy must fall and thresholds of justice and mercy be built. This begins in our hearts and in our families—from the smallest every day habits to the big life time decisions. All must be purified and reformed and made new. This transformation of the heart cannot stop in one's private sphere, however—like all new life, it must extend to our parishes, local churches and communities. This gathering tide of reform continues from these humble beginnings to reach ever deeper and farther and higher through the wounds of Christ's Body. Such a flood of wisdom for this does not come from human industry or cleverness. It is a gift from the Father—He has a plan for peace that He desires us to know. This plan is opened up by His Son, crucified for our sake. If we want to know this plan, we must find and abide with Him. To find the Crucified Image of the Invisible God, we do not need to search far. Instead, we pray, we fast and we offer sacrifices—with confidence that Christ's love is more powerful than every abuse and betrayal. If we remember Judas's betrayal, Peter's denial, and the nine who abandoned their Friend; we will be saddened, but not astonished, by evil in the Lord's House. Only one remained to stand with his Mother as He suffered abuse, humiliation and death. Only those who will stand by those who suffer in this way will ever know what the Beloved Disciple knew at Mary's side. Solidarity with our humiliated sisters and brothers requires us to go beyond what is convenient and face truths that are uncomfortable to live with. Only love humbled by prayer and fasting allows one to enter this Holy of Holies. Under the shadow of the Cross, the glory of God shines forth. The power of the Risen One is seen in ecclesial leaders who stand with the truth, who comfort the sorrowing, who thirst for justice, who for mercy's sake ask for clarity and who act as good shepherds—not hired-hands and thieves. Not afraid of wolves, these peacemakers protect the meek and the lowly—through them, those who have chosen the Cross find themselves overshadowed by the truth that He who is mighty is doing great things. Indeed, in this night of faith, the passion of Christ is renewed and the soul is filled with grace. Those who do not pray cannot find this holy ground because only prayer openness to that fresh newness that waits there. Those who do not fast cannot enter under this soul-filling shadow, they are already too full. Those who will not bear hardships or renunciations or sacrifice for the love of the Lord can never stand with the Woman and the Beloved Disciple—because one can only enter into the mystery of the Cross at one's own expense. Under the outstretch arms of the One who cries out for the plight of humanity, heaven and earth embrace, injustice is overthrown and evil vanquished. Here is the chastisement that makes us whole. Here, the blood and water that purifies from the stain of sin and give new life. Here, the truth of human dignity finds shelter. Here, the proud are cast down and the humiliated raised up. Here, reform for broken structures of hubris and secrecy. Here, renewal of hope—born in the darkness that cannot overcome it. Here, in the very bosom of God, we stand with the One who weeps that the true peace He holds out for us might at last reign in our hearts.

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