Easter 2021 Message from Brother Domenic
The Redeemer of Man, Jesus Christ, is the centre of the universe and of history. (John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, March 4, 1979)
The events of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ, constitute the very nature and reality of what life on this planet, named Earth, is for us, men and women. We are created in the likeness and image of the One and Eternal God. It is the key to understanding the world and ourselves. It is the death of the Word of God, Jesus, that is the single most important lesson of how the followers of Christ can learn to comprehend and speak of things of this world. The understanding of all this life’s struggles, hopes, efforts, joys, sufferings, triumphs and challenges are ultimately arbitrated before the Cross of our Redeemer. Rather than look away from it, we must turn our gaze to it.
It is the totality of the Cross and its fulfillment in the Resurrection that teach us how to live, how to understand the world and what we can truly hope for beyond the here and now of this life. The Cross of Christ has often been compared to a priceless and brilliant diamond. It is only when viewed through the eyes of faith in the fulness of the true light that we can see its various colours and sparkles. In this light, we can better see and, therefore, understand the price paid for our redemption and the love God has for his creation. If this were not so, we would not call the very day of the death of Jesus of Nazareth a good day. On this day, we learn once and for all time, that death is defeated in Christ and life triumphs in the end.
I have tried, perhaps, not always successfully, especially during these months of the pandemic, to remind our community we live in an age of unprecedented confusion and apathy as Catholic Christians. In his work The Crucified Christ, Jurgen Moltmann reminds us that the “Cross is the utterly incommensurable factor in the revelation of God. We have become too used to it. We have surrounded the scandal of the cross with roses.” Indifferentism and sometimes hostility has always been present towards the Church, but it is arguable that today it has reached a new boldness both outside and sadly inside Her gates as well. Catholics need to rediscover faith, as revealed to us and not as we would have it. There should be no doubt that God’s love is unconditional and all-merciful, but this does not reduce our moral choices as inconsequential and our beliefs as cultural and dated. They are crucial. Our choices, the ones we ourselves own, can render this unconditional love and mercy beyond our reach, a kind of chasm experienced by Lazarus as he gazed into paradise.
Moreover, many live and often choose a sort of private damnation of absence and distance from God due to rationalising fears and fantasies in this life. To recognise, not deny, our woundedness and twistedness are to understand the Cross and the forgiveness given to us freely through Christ’s sacrifice. In it and fulfilled in the Resurrection is the ultimate meaning of God’s revelation to us in Our Lord Jesus of the heart and nature of the Triune God. This notion was front of mind for St. Paul when he declared in Galatians: “For the word of the Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who were being saved it is the power of God.” (Galatians 2:20)
I have always been partial to Chesterton’s view – the problem with Catholicism is not that it isn’t true; it is that it isn’t easy. Repentance, conversion and a commitment to follow Christ and share in His burden for the sake of others represent the call to enter the narrow gate. As theologian Ralph Martin reiterates in his most recent work, which outlines many of the issues in the Church of our day, the “soft and non-offensive Gospel is not the Gospel of Jesus.” The compassion demonstrated by Jesus in the Gospels is restorative and transformative and not without demands on us.
Saint John Paul II warned us of the effects of the culture of death. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote of the real crisis to come in the Church and how She would need to be purified. Today Pope Francis reminds us of the dangers of new forms of ideological colonisation, which aim to reconstruct humans without God and to abandon people in their woundedness without applying the healing touch of Christ, which renews all things. In a timely article by Professor Anthony Esolen, he states what many are coming to understand more fully that Christians today should face the truth of their situation in the world now. It is not merely that Christians differ from others in what they conclude to be good and evil. The differences go deeper. Christians disagree about “being.” (The Catholic Thing, January 2021). In my view, much of this is the result of the denial of the significance of the Cross and the modern tendency to avoid that reality. Combined with that, the idea that suffering lacks any redemptive qualities in the human journey or that we are even in any need of being saved.
How does a place like De La Salle College, if at all, fit into all this? This message offers only a few thoughts as the possibilities are numerable. Over the last few days, I have received some unsolicited notes from students, past and present, who have expressed deep insights into the mission of our school. They reflect an appreciation for a sense of community that offers the young a framework of beliefs to be able to face a world very different from the one they see here. They tell of a sense of compassion based on eternal truths. A compassion that requires courage and competence.
If I were to summarise their thoughts and what I have seen in so many of our students over the last 25 years, it would best be described as a confident and humble sense of discipleship. I believe this speaks well of the school and of the future. There is a need for schools like ours, which try hard to witness to the courage of being, not merely saying. We are Catholic and trying to instill the imperative of living, despite our shortcomings, as ambassadors of Christ to one another and to the world beyond. This is our hope, the hope of Easter.
For those of us who are no longer students here but teachers, alums and parents, it is worth reminding ourselves of the role we are supposed to assume as older brothers and sisters as St. La Salle instructs us to be – a role of gentle and firm proclamation of the Gospel to the young, each in his or her own way and according to our respective gifts. Together we can surely look forward to a renewed blossoming of the Signs of our Faith. A blessed Easter to all as we celebrate the great gift of a hope that never ends. A hope lived in all of us but especially in the young.
No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the Cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. His prayer brought benefit to the multitude that raged against him. How much more does it bring to those who turn to Him in repentance.
St. Leo the Great, Pope
- Spring 2021