Holy Week with the Saints

As Holy Week begins with Passion Sunday, we might turn to the saints, who can give us a helping hand during our meditation and contemplation of this central mystery of our Christian faith. They act as faithful companions throughout this journey.

The Cross remains steadfast whilst the world is ravaged by every kind of current. Thus says St Bruno: While the world changes, the Cross stands firm. Christ’s pierced heart is the fountain of grace of any sort. St Margaret Mary reflects: The Divine Heart is an ocean full of all good things, wherein poor souls can cast all their needs; it is an ocean full of joy to drown all our sorrows, an ocean of humility to drown our folly, an ocean of mercy to those in distress, an ocean of love in which to submerge our poverty.

The Cross is our life’s compass. St Catherine of Siena states: He will provide the way and the means, such as you could never have imagined. Leave it all to Him, let go of yourself. Lose yourself on the Cross, and you will find yourself entirely. During the Holy Week we come to realise that Jesus in the Eucharist is the one who offers himself for us to satisfy the Father’s justice, comforts us in our trials, cures and strengthens us, fortifies us against evil, provides for what we need here and now. Let us open the door of our hearts to His heart and let Him love us by the flames of his love. Thus says St John Mary Vianney:

What does Jesus Christ do in the Eucharist? It is God, who, as our savior, offers himself each day for us to his Father’s justice. If you are in difficulties and sorrows, he will comfort and relieve you. If you are sick, he will either cure you or give you strength to suffer so as to merit Heaven. If the devil, the world, and the flesh are making war on you, he will give you the weapons with which to fight, to resist, and to win victory. If you are poor, he will enrich you with all sorts of riches for time and eternity. Let us open the door to his sacred and adorable Heart and be wrapped about for an instant by the flames of his love, and we shall see what a God who loves us can do. O my God, who shall be able to comprehend?

During this week of unfathomable love of Jesus for us we learn that Jesus’ love for us was made manifest on the Cross for all creation to see. Jesus truly died on the Cross but did not let his body be wrapped in death forever – on the third day he rose again. St Athanasius of Alexandria teaches us: Even on the Cross, He did not hide himself from sight; rather, He made all creation witness to the presence of its maker. Then, having once left it be seen that is was truly dead, He did not allow that temple of his body to linger long, but forthwith on third day raised it up, impassible and incorrupt, the pledge and token of his victory.

Jesus crucified is the sole basis for our hope, mediator and advocate, victim, sacrifice for our sins, goodness, patience, mercy for sinners and mercifully welcomes those who truly repent. St Charles Borromeo reminds us of this when he says: Behold, Jesus Christ crucified, who is the only foundation of our hope; He is our mediator and advocate; the victim and sacrifice for our sins. He is goodness and patience itself; His mercy is moved by the tears of sinners, and he never refuses pardon and grace to those who ask it with a truly contrite and humbled heart.

Abandoning one’s life into Christ’s hands means undergoing with him all the suffering he had undergone but with him we are resurrected and our names written in heaven. St Clare of Assisi writes: If you suffer with Him, you will reign with Him. If you cry with Him, you will have joy with Him. If you die with Him on the Cross of tribulation, you will possess the eternal dwelling place in the splendour of the saints.  And your name, written in the Book of Life, will be glorious among men.

The Cross is our sure passport to Heaven when we accept it willingly. St Paul of the Cross notifies this to us when he teaches: The Cross is the way of Paradise, but only when it’s borne willingly. Moreover, the Cross has the capacity to unite us with God eternally. St Charles de Foucauld reflects on this point when he says: Crosses release us from this world and by doing so bind us to God.

Christ’s cross is our university of holiness. St Angela Merici taught this when he said: When we contemplate the sufferings of Jesus, He grants us, according to the measure of our faith, the grace to practice the virtues He revealed during those sacred hours. From the Cross we learn humility, obedience, meekness and self-giving love. St Anthony Mary Claret says: Humility, obedience, meekness, and love are the virtues that shine through the Cross and the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. O my Jesus, help me imitate you!

When we carry our cross there is Christ on our side. St Gianna Beretta Molla says: Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in carrying it. God is helping us. And in God Who is comforting us, as St. Paul says, we can do anything. The Cross is so central in our Christian faith that without it we can never enter Christ’s glory. St John of the Cross insists on this point when he states: He who seeks not the Cross of Christ seeks not the glory of Christ.

Being committed to Jesus through our Cross is the apex of our earthly work. St Katherine Drexel tells us: The patient and humble endurance of the Cross – whatever nature it may be – is the highest work we have to do.

Only so may we understand why the Venerable Fulton Sheen said: Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.

I wish you a fruitful Holy Week in the Lord Jesus in the company of his saints!

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Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap was born in San Gwann on August 26 1972. After being educated in governmental primary and secondary schools as well as at the Naxxar Trade School he felt the call to enter the Franciscan Capuchin Order. After obtaining the university requirements he entered the Capuchin friary at Kalkara on October 12 1993. A year after he was ordained a priest, precisely on 4 September 2004, his superiors sent him to work with patients as a chaplain first at St. Luke's Hospital and later at Mater Dei. In 2007 Fr Mario obtained a Master's Degree in Hospital Chaplaincy from Sydney College of Divinity, University of Sydney, Australia. From November 2007 till March 2020 Fr Mario was one of the six chaplains who worked at Mater Dei Hospital., Malta's national hospital. Presently he is a chaplain at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre. Furthermore, he is a regular contributor in the MUMN magazine IL-MUSBIEĦ, as well as doing radio programmes on Radio Mario about the spiritual care of the sick.