This is the Wood of the Cross

Thanks for your patience over the last month while I throttled back on the more regular and/or serious blogging to take some time with family. This summer has been hell, and I thought some time away from the computer would be a good thing, particularly in the dog days of summer when all the cool kids are frolicking at the beach or making nasty videos about other Catholics.

We went through the wringer this summer, with a sequence of family tragedies, illness, and other giant stressers, from the long illness and death of my father to the shocking and sudden betrayal of a business partner, and all manner of terribleness in between.

We had a season of death (6 funerals in a single year) early in my return to the Church, and looking back on it I remain in awe at the comfort and grace we found in God. The same things happened this time. Our losses and challenges were hard, but we faced them as any Christian should: as that part of the cross of the world which we were asked to bear for a little while.

“This is the wood of the cross / on which hung the savior of the world.”

Sometimes that works better than others, and sometimes the weight is crushing. Christ fell three times under the weight of humanity’s sin. I don’t see how we can expect to do any better under our far less crushing burdens.

The via dolorosa begins in the garden at Gethsemane, much like humanity began in the Garden of Eden. With Christ, humanity walks from garden to grave, and thereon to resurrection. We’re willing to embrace the gardens and the resurrection, but the parts in between are where we stumble and doubt. They stand out in stark relief to the days of pleasure and comfort, because man was made for delight and not for suffering. Suffering was our choice, and would be again were we given the chance to choose a second time. I would have eaten the fruit as surely as Adam. I know this because I freely choose to eat it again each time I sin. As the Scripture says

 Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun. For if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.

Qoheleth(Ecclesiastes) 11:7-8

So we turn our face to the sun, and hope in the Lord in times of trial. The Cross only seems foolish to those who reject it, but for those of us who accept it, it becomes the saving power of God. In this way we climb its bitter and splintered wood to redemption.

I wish there was an easier way, but this is cup we’ve been asked to drink. You can either drink it and be redeemed, or refuse it. One thing you can’t do is make the cup go away.

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 38-40

Housekeeping Notes

I’m easing back into a regular blogging schedule. My kids still have a couple days of summer vacation left, and after losing most of their summer to our trials, they deserve to wring the last bit of fun out of the few days remaining.

I’m going to try to get on a regular pattern of posts alternating tech, history, and longer pieces. We’ll see how that works out.

This is my final semester in grad school. I’m doing a couple of scripture classes and then I sit for my comprehensive exams and I am HE-MAN: MASTER OF THEOLOGY!, making me well-qualified for work in the food service or hospitality sectors.

Actually, I’ll be following my masters by doing what my parish and diocese intended me to do when they asked me to return to school: creating an ongoing adult education program for my parish. We need to find ways to make adult catechesis a regular part of parish life. I imagine the process will look something like this:

YouTube Preview Image

Embracing Mystery
The Cold Reboot of the Soul
Pope Benedict, Creation, and Biblical Criticism
The Three Pillars of Lent
About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.