Notebook

Ave Crux

The saint we honour as Rose of Lima was born in Peru, to Spanish parents, in 1586, 23 years after the closure of the Council of Trent, which energised global Catholicism. In Rose’s life, this energy was manifest in strong dedication to care for the poor, which brings her close to the aspiration of contemporary Christianity. We may, by contrast, feel estranged by her life of mortification. For Rose, the Passion of Christ was not a subject for meditation. It was the vital atmosphere within which her existence unfolded. Her attachment to the Cross was radical. This is an aspect of the Christian condition that, today, we tend to forget somewhat. God, says St Paul in today’s Mass reading, calls us ‘to share the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ’. Now, that glory was supremely manifest on Calvary. To recognise this fact is not to yield to a morbid religiosity. It is to read the Gospel honestly, recognising our need for redemption and affirming the effective truth of the refrain the Church sings on Good Friday: ‘By the wood of the Cross joy entered the whole world.’ Thereby, not otherwise.