Climbing Back – Good News for Holy Saturday

11 04 2009

A Letter to the Romans (Paul) 6:3-11:

Brothers and sisters,

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

The Daily Path: Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my commitment to return to Jesus’ table as a practicing Catholic. I won’t share the complete chronicle of events in the days leading up to Easter 2008, but my commitment was cemented on that “Holy Weekend”.

Work obligations forced me to miss the traditional three hour Good Friday devotion, but for some reason I really wanted time to reflect on Our Lord’s suffering and sacrifice. I was inspired to go to the campus of St. Mary’s college where for some months I had been praying in the chapel. As I drove onto campus I saw the large white cross that sits on the green hilltop above. I decided to climb that hill and try to experience at least a tiny bit of what Jesus felt on the way to Golgatha and his crucifixion. I parked my car and headed straight up the face of the hill discovering it wasn’t as easy as it looked from down in the parking lot. It must have been a comical sight for any student watching outside their dorm to see this “old guy” in slacks and tie slipping all the way up the steep face.

As I slowly made my way up the hill, growing ever muddier and increasingly winded with each step, my silent prayers became more audible through my huffing and puffing. When I finally reached the top I was rewarded with a magnificent view of the surrounding valleys and hills that I had never seen before. (This was just the first of many new vistas that I would come to see in the next year) I recall kneeling down in the mix of damp, rocky soil at the base of the cross and praying harder than I had ever prayed in my life up to that point. I can’t tell you how or exactly when, but it was in those moments that I returned to the threshold of Our Lord.

Eventually, I made my way back down… this time following the easy fire trail that runs up behind the hill. That path was there all along but, like many things in my life back then, I didn’t see it. I’m still glad I took the hard way to climb the hill. It’s probably a reflection of my life in taking the longer road back to God. 

On Easter Sunday we went to Mass as a family at the church where I was baptized, St. Joseph’s Basilica in Alameda. As I listened to the sermon of Fr. Paul Minnehan, I knew in my heart that it was time to fully return to the Church. The next Sunday found me at St. Monica’s Church in Moraga, where once again the Holy Spirit touched me through the words of our pastor Fr. Wayne Campbell. That was when I knew this most prodigal of sons was back at the table with Christ.

As the late Paul Harvey would say, that’s “the rest of the story.”

Room to Chat: Lord, every day in his young life, Michael has climbed the hard road to Golgatha. Please help him to find an easier road to You. (See Room to Chat: Come Out – Good News for March 29)

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