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All Good Things
March 7, 2024

The Primacy of the Cross

We are about midway in the season of Lent. I believe Lent is an old English word meaning Spring.

Is it time to refocus on what Lent leads to: new life?

How much has been written about penance, sacrifice, fasting and conversion. All of this is, of course, good and helpful.

I would like to focus these few words in another direction, the cross. For this I will offer some Franciscan sources as a way to achieve the goal of the primacy of the cross during this Lenten season.

  • Bonaventure in his reflection on the early life of Francis of Assisi and his brothers writes "They spent their time praying incessantly, directing their efforts mentally rather than vocally to devoted prayers, ... the book of Christ's cross they studied continually day and night taught by the example and words of their father who spoke to them constantly about the cross of Christ." (Major Legend Chapter 4)
  • At the very end of his life as Francis wrote his Testament he recalled in prayer: "We adore you the Most Holy Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all your churches in all the whole world and we bless You because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world." (Testament 4-5)
  • Thomas of Celano, recorded in his First Legend that "the brothers who lived with him know that daily, constantly talk of Jesus was always on his lips. ... Out of the fullness of the heart his mouth spoke. ... He was always with Jesus: ... he bore Jesus always in his whole body." ( 1 Celano "115)
  • Clare, the first Franciscan woman, in her role as sister, abbess and guide taught the Imperial Bohemian Princess Agnes the lesson which she had learned from Francis "O most noble Queen, gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him as you desire to imitate Him; If you suffer with Him, you will reign with Him. If you weep with Him, you shall rejoice with Him, if you die with Him on the cross of tribulation, you shall possess heavenly mansions in the splendor of the saints, and, in the Book of Life, your name shall be called glorious among men." (Second Letter to Agnes of Prague, vs 20-21)

So as we proceed in the second half of Lent, the spiritual spring time, I leave us with a question: what is in your heart and on your lips?

May God give you peace.

Brother Tom Barton, OSF
Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs

Aerial View of the Cross

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