There is always hope for the man who knows that he is doing wrong; but there is no hope for the man who is doing wrong and calls the wrong right. The Catholic gets off the road like anyone else, but he never throws away the map.
A pulpit in which the words of our Lord are repeated does not unite us to Him; a choir in which sweet sentiments are sung brings us no closer to His Cross than to His garments. A temple without an altar of sacrifice is non-existent among primitive peoples, and is meaningless among Christians. And so in the Catholic Church the altar, and not the pulpit or the choir or the organ, is the center of worship, for there is re-enacted the memorial of His Passion. Its value does not depend on him who says it, or on him who hears it; it depends on Him who is the One High Priest and Victim, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Unlike anyone else, Our Lord came on earth, not to live, but to die. Death for our redemption was the goal of His sojourn here, the gold that he was seeking. He was, therefore, not primarily a teacher, but a Savior. Was not Christ the Priest a Victim? He never offered anything except Himself. So we have a mutilated concept of our priesthood, if we envisage it apart from making ourselves victims in the prolongation of His Incarnation.
And yet at that moment when a tree of his own creation turned against Him and became a cross, when the iron of His earth reacted against Him and became nails, when roses rebelled against Him and became thorns, at that second when a sickle and a hammer combined to cut down the weeds on Calvary’s hill to erect a gallows and drive nails through hands to render impotent the blessings of love incarnate, He, like a tree which bathes in perfume the ax which kills it, lets fall from His lips for the earth’s first hearing the answer to the riddle of hate and anger: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.
He did not ask that men should write down His Words into Scripture; He did not ask that His kindness to the poor should be recorded in history; but He did ask that men remember His Death. And in order that it’s memory might not be any haphazard narrative on the part of men, He Himself instituted the precise way it should be recalled. The memorial was instituted the night before He died, at what has since been called “The Last Supper.
He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone. The implication is clear: innocence alone has the right to condemn. But innocence will always wish to take on the guilt of the other, to atone for his failings as if they were his own. Love recognizes the sin, but love also dies for it.
I don’t want my life to be mine, I want it to be Christ’s. The more ego there is, the less there is of Christ.
Why do I exist? That is a question very few ever ask themselves. They would not have a ten cent gadget in their homes for five minutes without knowing its purpose, but they will go through life without knowing why they are living. Until we answer that question there is no question worth answering; and the way we answer it determines our character in this world and our destiny in the next.
Cynicism is a screen behind which youth hides its ignorance and old age its sin.