At the Altar of Repose…

DOING A STINT at the altar of repose after this evening’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper, I happened to look up and was struck by the play of light and shadow in the by-then softly lit church. In my eyes I beheld an asymmetrical Calvary, with the Lord’s cross in high relief and the thieves’ the pale shadows cast from the Lord’s cross. Later, before I turned the lights out, I snapped the persistent apparition.

However, instead of thinking of the thieves crucified with Christ, another thought occured to me. These two shadow crosses, distinct from but enabled by the Lord’s cross, and connected to each other even as they kept a respectful distance from the Lord’s cross, were related not to the Calvary thieves but to me.

The first shadow cross presented itself to my mind as the emblem of all the sufferings, trials, and tribulations that I will ever endure. The second presented itself immediately after as the emblem of all the sufferings, trials, and tribulations that I inflict on others, including a multitude I suspect of which I am not even aware.

When the Light of the World returns and floods the world with his light, such shadow-crosses will disappear, for where light is universal and complete, no shadow can abide, and our crosses will have run their course. But for now, I realise I have much of which to repent. While the cross I inflict on others abides, so too will the cross of my own tribulation. The two stand arm-in-arm, like dandies promenading.

For now it falls to me to practise what I preach, and repent of the cross I inflict. As it grows lighter, so too, perhaps, will the cross I bear.

What meagre grain are so many of us priests to the mill of Christ’s priesthood! It is never more apparent to me than on this day we commemorate, inter alia, the institution of the Christian priesthood. Yet, for all that, the Twelve on this holy night would reveal themselves all to be either cowards or traitors. Why should their successors be any better? Ah, but the eleven cowards would be become eleven fruitful apostles, fruitful up to and beyond their deaths in imitation of their Lord. The paltry priests of today can take some heart from their forebears—that nothing is impossible to God, not even bringing rich fruit from barren ministers.

May the good Lord do the impossible again this Easter.

Oremus pro invicem.



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