In compliance with President Trump’s call for continued social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Archdiocese of Atlanta has extended the suspension of public masses through April 19. Palm Sunday, the celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem marking the start of Holy Week and the final days of His earthly ministry, is on April 5 this year. We may be forced to celebrate this holy day in isolation from our parish families, but the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit have an idea for a wonderful way to connect with other christians and publicly acknowledge Palm Sunday. Check out their recent Facebook post.
“We may be physically isolated, but we are not separated. We are united as the members of the body of Christ. We are the Church.” Let’s do this!
The following essay is a real life experience from an anonymous author, an example of how God works mysteriously in our lives. It is offered to encourage anyone who may be having doubts that God always hears us, loves us, and provides what is best for us. This author is a cradle Catholic born before Vatican II who has been wonderfully blessed by God with many talents, a loving family, and a successful business career before retiring. He writes under the pen-name initials of JCM – the meaning of which is another story.
Each morning at about dawn I begin my day by recalling the events in the human life of Jesus and His mother, Mary, per the format of the rosary, and then continue to pray, using the rosary format, for relatives and friends as well as major concerns of the day. Being a type “A” person, I double task by concurrently praying and exercising while walking in the house, or weather permitting, outside in the neighborhood. My rosary has a lot sentimental value because it was made and given to me by a deacon at our church many years ago, and has been prayed to get me successfully through many problems in life.
Just before dawn on a recent Sunday morning I pulled my rosary out of its small leather case as I stepped outside and grasped in the partial darkness for the crucifix to begin. SHOCK! The crucifix was missing! A mild panic set in! What happened to it? Since I am the only one who uses this rosary, I quickly started mentally retracing my prior use of it. I remembered the crucifix being there the previous morning when I started the rosary but did not knowingly touch it when putting it back in its case. Being a logical engineer, I conclude that I must have lost it while walking outside the previous day. So I set out to retrace my usual path down my driveway and on about a half mile of roads through the neighborhood.
As I walked, my prayerful intention in saying the rosary, as my fingers held each part except the missing cross, was to find the missing crucifix. My gut feeling was that this task would be like finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack” because the cross was less than two inches high and its dark gray color was about the same as the asphalt on the road, assuming that the cross was on the road and had not bounced into the vegetation adjacent to the road. With these nagging doubts, I reached the road at the bottom of my driveway and had started on the second joyful mystery of the trip Mary took on her visitation when a voice inside me said, “John, I am giving you a break from the troubles you have been having by taking away your cross!”
Suddenly, the panic I felt when I realized that the cross was missing was like a drop of water in the ocean compared to the panic that I now felt. “Oh, God,” I thought, “What are you telling me? Is my earthly life about to end? I am not ready! It’s not time yet! Remember that we have this one-sided prayer of mine, that you have not agreed to, that I should live longer than my wife so that I can care for this beautiful daughter of yours that you have entrusted to me to return to you. Thank you that she is doing well but it would be cowardly for me to leave her to fend for herself!”
As I continued to walk along the road and hold back the tears of grief, I prayed repeatedly while also continuing with the mysteries of the rosary, “Jesus, please give me a cross to carry with you. I want to carry a little bit of what you have carried for us. Please let me do my share and not be a free-loader. Please give me back my cross.”
I was really down as I completed the half-mile path on the road that brought me back to my driveway without finding the cross. But still having hope, I decided that I should walk the path again because now that the sun was up a little more, maybe I could see better and find the cross. As I reached my driveway, I was in the middle of the fourth sorrowful mystery, The Carrying of the Cross, while still praying that I might find my cross. Miraculously, what a glorious sight in the early morning light – the crucifix I was seeking was on the driveway next to the morning newspaper. It had been run over. The cross itself was slightly curved. The corpus Jesus was next to the cross and an arm was broken. But at least I had found my cross. And so I rejoiced because I knew that Jesus had given me back my cross!
While the jeweler was not able to repair the broken crucifix, we found another one to install on the rosary. But even more important, Jesus assured me that I had jumped to erroneous conclusions with the message that I thought I had heard when starting my search. We will continue to have crosses in life to carry with Him. Alleluia! They are just likely to change as did the crucifix on my rosary.