Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross
On this feast of the Holy Cross we are once again invited to remember how even in the Cross of Christ, once a symbol of defeat, ignominy, and death, we are called to hope and trust in the Lord.
What fills my heart this day is the memory of attending the funeral Mass just two days ago of a young woman I had the privilege of knowing while journeying with a group on pilgrimage to the shrine of our Lady of Lourdes. The young woman, Wendy, a mother of three children, ages 7, 5, and 3, and wife of a great man, Orlando, was suffering from a rare cancer that caused the development of tumors inside the body. For Wendy it was a three year long process that ultimately took her life after the chemo became toxic and the tumors simply filled her lungs until she was unable to breathe on her own. Isn’t it so very sad that this young woman, so beautiful, vibrant, and loving should have to leave her family that still needs her so very much? Even more piercing was the moment at the end of the Mass when we were preparing to process back to the Church entrance. I was standing on the aisle just next to Jacob, Wendy and Orlando’s 3 year old little one, so beautiful to look at with dark hair and even darker eyes. Jacob leaned up to me and cried, "Where’s my mommy?" How the Cross of Christ comes even into the lives of God’s littlest ones.
On the feast of the Holy Cross we are invited to remember that it is in dying that we are born to new life. Life dares us to believe that even when it deals out its worst, we are still mighty in our faith and not defeated. The Cross of Christ has won the ultimate victory for us and all we can do is to imitate the Lord who emptied himself in obedience to the Father’s will and who now sits at God’s right hand. Wendy knows this great truth this very moment. What a joy for her! What peace and happiness dear Wendy has now and forever! And for Jacob and all of us who still know the sadness of a life snatched away through the horror of cancer, well, we too must empty ourselves of doubt and grief by trusting that God will raise us up too. He will be faithful to us just as he was with his beloved Son. Jacob will see his mommy. He will hear her sweet voice once again! So shall we all!
Fr. Pat Brennan, CP is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.