Today I leave for Indiana to speak at the Indiana Catholic Mens’ Conference. Often at the mens’ conferences I will speak about St Benedict for the Modern Catholic Man or How to Be a Spiritual Hero.
But there’s a new topic on my heart and mind: the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’ve been thinking increasingly about the troubles our church is facing, the division and strife in our country and world, the crisis in the family and the crisis of faith, and it has been impressed on my heart and mind that at the heart of the problems in the church is a lack of the very heart of the faith–the real mission of Jesus Christ in the world.
On the one hand we have the modernist Christians who spend all their time working at peace and justice issues, fighting for gender equality, gay rights, environmental issues or whatever…
On the other hand we have the conservative Christians who spend all their time fighting the liberal Christians, trying to hold the fort and hold the faith, trying to fight their own culture wars issues…defense of marriage, abortion, immorality…
Everybody running around fighting with one another and all of them trying to make the world a better place.
In the meantime the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ stands neglected on a lonely hillside.
I think part of this is because we have lost the meaning of the cross. We don’t know what it means and why it matters. Religious cliches trip off the tongue: “Jesus Died to Save you from your sins” or “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes Away the SIns of the World” or “Jesus Saves” or “Jesus’ Blood Washes Away your sins” and who knows what this means to an affluent American who doesn’t really know what sin is and if he does, doesn’t imagine that he has committed any sins and anyway, “How can the execution of a political prisoner 2000 years ago in the Roman Empire forgive my sins?”
We are in desperate need of a new proclamation of the cross of Jesus Christ and why his death and resurrection matter to ordinary men and women.
I’ve been working a lot on this for my next book, and tomorrow’s conference in Indiana is a chance to do a test run on some ordinary guys who, I hope, will hear the message and open their hearts to the wonder of God’s love expressed on Calvary.
Why does this matter? Because this is the only thing that matters. St Paul said, “We preach Christ and him crucified” and “I am resolved to know nothing but Christ and him crucified.”
This is the still point of the turning world. This is the hinge on which history turns. This is the gate of heaven opened and the chains of hell unlocked.
Our world needs this fresh vision of this ancient story.
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