Message from Father John
The Cross of Christ in the Midst of Great Lent and our Spiritual Efforts
Christ's Cross is the most powerful symbol of victory and the most beloved ornament of the Christians. For the Cross of Christ stands for the love of God for us. It shows us how much God loves us. His only-begotten Son took on our human nature, fulfilled completely His Father’s Will, which we had failed to do, and He died on the Cross in order to defeat sin and death and grant us eternal salvation and freedom.
In our Lenten effort to do the Will of God and to conform our daily lives to the teaching of Christ, we encounter many obstacles. Some of them spring from within, our personal weaknesses, and others come from the people around us.
Our “Journey towards Easter” appears uphill and difficult. To encourage and strengthen us, our Church presents to us the veneration of the Cross of Christ. It seeks to first remind us that all those who wish to follow Christ must carry their own personal crosses. Secondly, it reassures us that we are not alone in our efforts. Christ is with us to help us and inspire us with His Cross to continue our journey until we reach our destination. Let not the darkness of the Good Friday frighten us, because the light of Easter will overcome it quickly.
After we baptize or Chrismate a child or an adult, we place the cross around his/her neck with these words: “Whoever wants to come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” The Christian life is a continuous effort to follow Christ. The Lenten Season accentuates this effort and reminds us of our need to discipline our bodies and feed our spirits. But we cannot do it alone. We need God’s presence and assistance.
Let us set aside time every day to pray, to read the Gospel of St. Mark, the Letter to the Hebrews, The Book of Isaiah the Prophet, The Book of the Proverbs, the Psalms and the Book of Genesis. These Lenten Biblical Readings, together with other Lenten books and practices, offer us spiritual nourishment and guidance. God is speaking to us through them to reassure us of His victory.
Let us also fast according to our ability, examine ourselves spiritually, confess our sins in repentance and come frequently to Holy Communion. There can be no true spiritual life without participating in the life-giving Sacraments.
Finally, Let us become generous in our almsgiving towards our needy brothers and sisters.
With love, Fr. John P. Angelis
3rd Friday after Pascha
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