By Katie Mathes
As the season of Lent comes to a close and the Church embraces the joy of Christ’s Resurrection, we are mindful of God’s power, mercy, and love. These liturgical seasons are two of the most important for Christians because together they contain the most important teachings of the Church: that Christ died on the wood of the Cross and then He “rose again on the third day in accordance with the scriptures”. This season is also the perfect opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the Cross in each of our lives.
Each time I approach Lent and then Holy Week, I am reminded of how little I truly reflect on the Cross. I have a bad habit of focusing more on what I am doing for Lent, rather than what Christ has done for me. I spend so much time choosing what I will give up for Lent, planning where I will give alms, and deciding which parish Fish Fry I will attend, that I forget entirely that this is a season where I give praise to God for the work he has done through the Cross.
When I first began my reflections, I thought of the Cross as a symbol solely of my Redemption. While this is important and true, this is not the only thing the Cross represents. In fact, if we truly reflect on the Cross, we will see that everything in the life of a Christian, particularly Catholics, flows outward from the Cross.
Prayer is a great example for this claim. Just think about it. Everytime Catholics pray, they cross themselves. Why? The answer is that it is meant to be a reminder of Christ’s own Passion which opened the doors for us into relationship with God. Before Christ’s Passion, man was separated from God by a giant chasm caused by man’s sinfulness. In the Cross we find a bridge that was laid across this chasm, restoring our relationship with God. By crossing ourselves we are essentially saying “it is by this Cross that I am able to be with You, my God”.
Prayer is not the only example. We can also turn our attention to the Sacraments of the Church, particularly in the Eucharist. In the Old Testament we learn that unleavened bread is the bread of affliction (Deut 16:3). The bread that is blessed by a priest to bring about the Eucharist is unleavened. Therefore, when we eat the Eucharist we are specifically eating the crucified body of our Lord. The Eucharist flowed outward from the Cross.
Christ’s death and resurrection are the central teachings of Christianity, and from them everything pours forth. Let’s keep this in mind as we complete the final stretch of Lent and come to Easter.