St Cecilia Triduum, March 2024

St Cecilia Triduum, March 2024

Saint Cecilia Triduum of Prayer and Fasting

March 2024

Lent is the time par excellence for fasting and other forms of penance. It is also the time to turn our minds and hearts to Calvary.

The first point we can consider is the great love Our Blessed Lord has for us. He did not have to suffer for us. The redemption could have been offered freely in exchange for the asking. God could also have sent someone else, a holy man, to offer his life for us and taken that as being good enough for our redemption. He chose however to take our humanity upon Himself and to experience suffering. And not just any suffering, the worst of all possible suffering: being rejected by His own people, tortured and executed like the worst of criminals. All this for one reason: the love He has for us, for each of us, love which St Paul goes so far as to describe as “excessive”. He did not love us just enough to get us over the line. He loves us far beyond what was required, to move our hearts to live Him in return. That is the first thing to keep in mind when we contemplate the passion of Our Lord. It was not the fruit of uncontrollable circumstances. It was rather the positive will of God arranging things so as to suffer as much as He possibly could in order to show us how much He loves us. That is why the passion of our Lord is always the subject of meditation that is best suited to increase our love for God.

A second point is that He suffered all this for our sins, and each of us can say, for my sins. If we were the only sinner in need of redemption, He would have died just for us. He wants none of His creatures to be lost. As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live. (Ez 33:11). We easily point the finger at others and think that if they got their act together, the world would be a better place. We condemn those in power for their involvement in corruption (and we should), but we often forget how corrupt we ourselves have been. We throw stones at those who crucified our blessed Lord and who rejected Him during His lifetime, but we fail to notice that we too, every time we have offended our Lord, have rejected Him and nailed Him to the cross. We are like those whom St Paul says crucify Christ again by their wicked lives (cf Hb 6:6). It is time to stop that, to stop sinning and to live virtuous lives.

That brings us to the third point, namely that we are called upon to take our share in suffering the passion with Christ. St Paul was the first to formulate it dogmatically when he wrote to the Colossians: I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church (Col. 1:24). In other words, the Head of the Mystical Body, our Blessed Lord, has done His part in making atonement for all sins by His passion and death and opening up the gates of Heaven. But each of the members of the Mystical Body of Christ must do their share and take the load of atonement for their own sins and in some cases for the sins of others. This is why St Pio of Pieltrecina said that Christ is in agony until the end of the world, meaning that we Christians must suffer, and Christ suffers in and through us for the world. This is why the more people do precisely that, the more graces are available for the world. The less people that do it, the world founders more and more. So if we want the world to get back on track, the best thing we can do is get our act together, stop  sinning, stop complaining, start offering our sacrifices and prayers for sinners.

This very day over 160,000 people will die around the world and appear before God to be judged. How many of them do you think are in the state of grace? That is God’s secret, but one thing we know for sure: only those in God’s grace are saved, for there is no conversion after death. People die the way they live. There are many souls who are lost because there is no one to pray and sacrifice for them, said Our Lady of Fatima. So let’s live in such a way as to be ready to appear before God every single day of our lives and let’s be generous in praying and sacrificing for others.