14 September 2013

In Honor of the Day, or Why Catholics Have Crucifixes

So, thy life shall be hanging before thee [cf. Deuteronomy 28:66], as you look at yourself in it as in a mirror.  There you can recognize how mortal were your wounds, that no medicine could cure, except the blood of the Son of God.  If you have looked well, you will have been able to recognize how precious and excellent you are, for whom such priceless blood was shed.  No man can better understand his own worth, than in the mirror of the Cross, which shows you how you should bring low your pride, mortify your unruly flesh, pray to the Father for those who persecute you, and commend your spirit into his hands.  Yet there happens to us as James 1 says:
If a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance  in glass.  For he beheld himself and went his way and presently forgot what manner of man he was [James 1:23-24].
as he saw himself to be there.  So we, too, gaze at the Crucified, in whom we see the image of our redemption , and in thinking of him for a little while (a very little while), perhaps we sorrow.  But straightaway, as soon as we turn our eyes, we are changed in heart and turn to laughter.  But if we feel the bites of the fiery serpents (the temptations of the devil and the wounds of our sins), let us fix our eyes on the brazen serpent, that we may live.
But neither shall thou trust thy life, he says, that tells you that whosever believeth in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting [cf. John 3:16].  To see and to believe are the same thing, for as much as you believe, so much you see.  Trust your life, then, with a living faith, that you may live with Life himself for ever and ever.  Amen.
- Saint Anthony of Padua, Sermon for the Finding of the Holy Cross

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