The Exaltation of the Holy Cross — Vigil Mass
Saturday, 13 September 2014 — Year A
First Reading: Num 21:4-9 Second Reading: Phil 2:6-11 Gospel: Jn 3:13-17
May God Bless each and every one of you.
Cross - Sign & Symbol of Our Faith
Someone had to think up the crucifixion: it is not a natural idea. Someone had to decide the way a body might be hung and how to fix it there. Somebody had to consider how long and torturous a death it would bring. Death could result from many things: loss of blood, dehydration, asphyxiation, starvation. And all the while, a public death – naked, humiliated – while the crowds walk by along the road and hurl out insults about criminals deserving what they get. Someone invented crucifixion with diabolical creativity.
We celebrate the feast of a holy cross. The symbol of cruelty has been redeemed as a promise of new life. We look upon the cross, not with a shudder, but with hope. We display it prominently in our churches, lovingly in our homes. We invent new meanings for the vertical bar (our reconciliation with God) and the cross bar (our reconciliation with one another). When we see the arms stretched out on a crucifix, we do not think of the nails those hands received but of the love those arms extend. What the cross was meant to do is no longer as important as what Jesus meant it to do.
The condemnation of one man led to the salvation of all people. The original design of the cross is forever lost behind its new purpose.
Who is Jesus for you? Is he a friend? Is he someone you only talk to when you need something or are in trouble? Do you even think about him outside of church?
This week, Jesus reminds us of his status as our Saviour. At times, we forget that we are called to lift up and revere the Lord at all times. Think of some ways that you can lift up and revere Jesus this week. This may include spending some time in prayer, reading Scripture, or doing some form of service in your parish or local community – anything you can do to give God glory.
What overwhelming belief do you have in God's love for you?
Kind regards and God bless
Fr Richard Laurenson
For priestly vocations go to: thepriesthood.org.nz
St Peter Chanel Prayer
Heavenly Father, from the First Companions of the Society of Mary, you sent St Peter Chanel to bring the light of faith to the people of our islands.
In hardship and afflictions he gave understanding testimony to Christ by his words, his life and the shedding of his blood.
May our celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection make us also faithful witnesses to the new life he offers us.
Honoured in New Zealand
In New Zealand there are six parishes, four primary schools, one college, a National Shrine and a Diocesan centre dedicated in honour of St Peter Chanel, the Bi-Centenary of whose birth was on 12th July 2003. How is it that a saint of French origin is so honoured in this land?
Father Peter Chanel was one of the early group of Catholic missionaries to the South West Pacific which set out from France in December 1836. The group was destined to found the Catholic Church in Western Oceania and New Zealand. Father Chanel and a Marist catechist Brother Marie-Nizier were placed on the island of Futuna, north of the Fijian Islands, in November 1837 and laboured there for three and a bit years. It was a difficult mission: learning the language, coping with isolation, different foods and customs, eventually beginning to bear some fruit.
On 28th April 1841 Peter Chanel was killed by a group of warriors incited by the leading chief of Futuna, in hatred of the Faith which threatened his control over the people.
Eventually the earthly remains of Peter Chanel were brought to New Zealand and remained at Russell for eight years before being sent to France. Peter Chanel was acknowledged as a martyr and declared Blessed in 1889.
He was canonized in the Marian Year 1954 by Pope Pius XII. St Peter Chanel is recognized as the first martyr of Oceania and the Patron Saint of this region. As a foundation member of the Society of Mary he is acknowledged by the wider Marist family - Marist Brothers of the Schools, Marist Sisters (Peter Chanel had a sister in this congregation), Marist Missionary sisters - all of these religious groups contributing to the development of the Catholic Church in New Zealand.
As a Marist, a missionary, a martyr and a Saint, Peter Chanel is of significance to New Zealand. We celebrate the anniversary of his death as a Church Feast day and the Bi-Centenary of his birth will give further opportunity for Russell, Manukau, Te Rapa, Whakatane, Hamilton Diocese, Hastings, Masterton, Otaki, Motueka, and Green Island (and indeed - all parishes and schools) to celebrate, remember and gain strength by Peter Chanel's intercession as the lives of Peter's spiritual descendants continue.