Journey of the cross

St Brigid's Shrine


 

 

 

DAY 1 - St Brigid’s Shrine, Faughart

 

Over the coming weeks we will make our journey carrying this cross to Convents around Ireland.

It is a humble, plain, piece of wood, slightly rough around the edges, tired and worn out, left forgotten in the corner of a timber yard.

Along the way, week by week, we will steadily work to embellish and decorate this cross.

Just as Jesus transformed the cross (a symbol of torture and death) into a sign of hope, life and love , we will work so that a beautiful work of art – full of light and life - will emerge from this simple construction

 

The pilgrimage on which we are about to embark, and our creative efforts along the way, will also reflect our need for continual spiritual transformation.

We should consider our lives like our artwork …as “work in progress”!!!

When we meet Jesus on the last day, we want to present to Him the most beautiful version of ourselves.

We invite you to follow us as we carry this cross to the first stop on our tour – to the Poor Clares at their Monastery of the Light of Christ.

 

 


Poor Clares Monastery


         Week 2 : Adoration Convent: Belfast


When we began our pilgrimage at St Brigid’s shrine we started out with a humble wooden cross.

We hope that the gradual transformation of this cross into a beautiful work of art will reflect our own need for continual transformation as we journey through life.

Today our cross takes on a new form.

The spiral which you can see is created following a numerical pattern discovered by the mathematical genius Fibonacci in AD1200.

The ratio which was found was given the name of ‘phi’.

It was also more appropriately referred to as the ‘Golden Ratio’ or beautifully described as ‘Divine Proportion’.

The fascinating element of this discovery, was not the ‘golden ratio’ or the shapes themselves, but where they were found.

Science recognises the presence of these forms all throughout nature.

Spirals based on the ‘Divine Proportion’ are found in the cochlea of our ears, in sea shells, the waves of the ocean, leaves on plants, petals of flowers, hurricanes, the solar system and even in the helical structure of our very own DNA!!!

This exciting phenomenon, which many have marvelled at, can only support the presence of a Master Creator – Our loving God – who designed all things, leaving His mark on all He touched.

The spiral on our cross helps us reflect on God’s divine fingerprint, symbolising His very direct, personal and unmistakeable involvement in our creation and in our world.

It is poignant that Pope Francis has just released his latest encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ - around the theme of ‘caring for our common home’. He says the following “Saint Francis, faithful to scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of His infinite beauty and goodness”.

As always, the signs of God in our lives are ever present, and in full sight, for anyone who chooses to look for and recognise them.

Let us all open the eyes of our hearts to see clearly the presence, beauty and goodness of God.

 


Redemptoristine Convent : Dublin

The Cross Journey – Week 3 - The Holy Spirit



Today, through our cross, we focus on the completion of the Blessed Trinity.  With an emphasis on the Holy Spirit,  our cross now reflects all three persons of God together:- God the Father and His Divine fingerprint, God the son, who He sent and who died on the cross for us, and God the Holy Spirit, who revealed Jesus to the world as the Messiah.

The Holy Spirit is a mystery- not heard nor seen; instead He works through us and in us to make His message known.  The Bible is full of examples of the Spirit ‘speaking through the prophets’.  He is also a presence felt.  We can feel Him stirring within us in our hearts and souls.  If we are open to the Spirit we can recognize Him as He moves and appreciate, with awe, the unfolding tapestry that He weaves and the fruits of His work as they appear. 

Jesus did not leave us alone when He died… at the last supper he promised his disciples that He would send a counsellor to be with them forever… “– the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17)  And He did not let us down… He fulfilled this promise with His very last breath!  The Spirit was breathed forth from Jesus as a gift to the world when Jesus ‘gave up his spirit’ on Calvary. 

On our cross today we have used a number of symbols representing the Holy Spirit at significant times throughout Christian history.  He was present at the Annunciation - He appeared Like a cloud which overshadowed Our Lady so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus (Luke 1:35).   He descended like a dove upon Jesus as he was being baptized by John, and He was present at Pentecost When He came down like tongues of fire on the apostles. 

He came in the form of a dove because, by His gentleness and mildness, He desires to give us tranquillity of heart; The form of flames symbolizes the zeal for justice which He imparts, to enkindle in us a fire, so we can speak words burning with love.

The image of the Holy Spirit represented as Fire is a particularly powerful one.   The fact that the symbols we have added this week are made of steel is significant.  Lumps of metal can be melted and moulded for a desired purpose by the capable blacksmith.  The Holy Spirit however can transform us with the living fire.  He can reshape our lives with the power and energy of a fire that surpasses all others if only we allow Him. Pope Benedict on his homily on Pentecost (May 2010) reflected…”The flame of the Holy Spirit burns but does not injure, and yet it achieves a transformation. … However this effect of the divine scares us, we are afraid of being ‘scalded’ and would prefer to remain as we are.  Those who entrust themselves to Jesus experience peace and joy of heart already in this life, things the world cannot give, and cannot take away once God has given them to us.  It is worthwhile, then, to allow ourselves to be touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit.  The pain this brings is necessary for our transformation.”

Finally our cross is notably blue this week!!

The Blue in the cross represents the Holy Spirit as life giving water.  Water is essential in our lives to cleanse, nourish and refresh. This is equally as important in our spiritual lives.  The Spirit cleanses us from sin in the sacrament of reconciliation, and nourishes our souls. The Spirit waters the seeds of faith so that we may bear the shoots and fruits of the Holy Spirit (which we can look forward to seeing appear on our cross over the coming weeks). The Spirit helps to refresh us in our daily struggles so we do not get weary but find strength to continue our Journey to God.

Blue also symbolises our devotion to Our Lady and our recognition of her special role in the story of our salvation.  By the Holy Spirit’s power, and through her faith, her virginity became uniquely fruitful.  As members of Rise of the Roses, we admire with gratitude her very special ‘yes’ to God.  We hold it up as a shining example of the possibilities of what can happen if we too respond to God with our very own ‘Yes’!!

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love



WEEK 4 -  SIENA MONASTERY :  DROGHEDA


 I am the vine you are the branches

 

Week four on our pilgrimage and we continue the transformation of our cross.  This week we see new life – A vine has appeared!

The vine shoots up out of three nails (representing those of the cross on Calvary).  When Jesus rose from the grave victorious over death He displayed His infinite power.  We take comfort from the knowledge that God has the power to allow goodness to spring up out of even the most difficult and painful events in our lives.

“ I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 5)

In the bible Jesus describes Himself as the ‘true vine’ and Johns Gospel leaves us in no doubt of the absolute necessity of remaining united to Christ.

We are ‘the branches’ and it is vital in order for us to achieve eternal life that we cultivate our relationship with Jesus Christ ‘the Vine’.  We must love Him, learn about Him, talk to Him, offer praise and thanksgiving to Him and nourish ourselves on His body and blood.  If we fail to cultivate our relationship with Jesus we will be unable to bear good fruit on which we will be judged.

You may have noticed that the leaves on our vine are mirrors.  We must recognize ourselves within the vine, connected to God and to one another- Let us work hard to build healthy relationships.  Help us especially to imitate Jesus so that whenever others look into our faces they see Jesus reflected in our lives.



             WEEK 5 :  Sister Disciples of the Divine Master




Our journey with our cross continues: Week 5:


When we began our journey at St Brigid’s Shrine we started out with a poor, humble cross. Each week we have steadily worked to embellish and decorate our cross.


Just as Jesus transformed the cross from a symbol of torture and death into a sign of hope, life and love, we are working week by week so that a beautiful work of art will emerge from this simple construction. It reflects our own spiritual transformation as we continue on our special pilgrimage around Ireland.


Today we reflect on the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
“Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.”
Let us invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts. When we listen and respond to Him we are guaranteed to see the visible signs of His presence in our lives.


The fruits of the Holy Spirit are represented on our cross this week by 12 little flowers. As we decorate our cross with these pretty flowers we acknowledge how in a similar way the Holy Spirit has the ability to enrich our lives. 


If we live by the Spirit we can bear the fruits of charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity.


Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Disciples of the Divine Master, spoke of cultivating a beauty that will save the world.


We pray that we will allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives, so that we may become beautiful inside and out, and therefore bear good fruit for the glory of our Lord.


  Week 6 : Carmelite Sisters : Newross


“I thirst!” - Our Cross Reflection for week 6..


Jesus, on the cross, cried out “I thirst!”


The soldiers, thinking that He wanted a drink, offered Him vinegar. We now, however, understand that Jesus was, infact, thirsting for souls – for our love.
The horizontal plank on our cross represents Jesus’ outstretched arms – reaching out, imploring, calling out to the whole world to come to Him and into the protection of His loving embrace.
As we look upon the cross, let us renew our own personal response to Jesus’ cries. Let us not hesitate, but instead rush towards Him body, heart and soul, to quench His thirst for us.
Jesus' desire for our love is, in fact, a two way street as we too yearn for God.
Jesus’ cries at the crucifixtion echo those of Isaiah (55:1) “Come all of you who thirst”
Whether the world acknowledges it or not everyone has a thirst for God. Everyone desires something deeper and seeks something higher. We are invited not only to answer God's call in our own hearts but also to spread the Good News to others so that they too may be satisfied.
But what is the Good News?
· God, the Father, so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that we may be saved.
· God, the Son, filled with love for His people laid down His life for us all.
· Through His suffering and death and out of His love for us Jesus wiped away the sins of the world and by His Ressurection and victory over death, showed us the path of eternal life!
· “Do not be afraid I am with you” Jesus gave us the gift of the Holy spirit with His final breath and left us with the miracle of His presence in the Eucharist


This is it – The Good News:
· God is Love!
· We have been saved!
· You are not alone!
Repent and believe the Good News!


We must carry this message of Christ to others in order to win souls for God.


Birds have descended upon our cross this week. These birds represent the twelve apostles- the first messengers of Christ. They were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and anointed with tongues of fire so they could speak to the hearts of all who heard them.


Evangelisation is an essential mission of our church. Let us proclaim the Good News with courage, confidence and conviction to the ends of the earth so that many hearts may be converted.
God offers Himself to us continually… He continually plays His part. To secure eternal life we must now play ours. Having heard the Good News we must now repent and believe it!




Week 7 – The Cross Journey


When we began our journey at St Brigid’s Shrine we started out with a poor, humble cross. Each week we have steadily worked to embellish and decorate our cross.

Just as Jesus transformed the cross from a symbol of torture and death into a sign of hope, life and love, we are working week by week so that a beautiful work of art will emerge from this simple construction. It reflects our own spiritual transformation as we continue on our special pilgrimage around Ireland.

This week we focus on the Communion of Saints

All of us on earth are pilgrims on a journey.  Throughout our struggles, in our weakness and when the path ahead becomes confusing and dark, who better to seek direction from than those who have gone before us and have arrived safely into His heavenly kingdom?

We, therefore, look to Jesus, Our Lady and all the saints, who have walked this earth just as we do now, to help light and guide our path to eternal life.

We believe in the Communion of Saints, that is, we believe that we are united through Christ– the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory and the saints in Heaven .  We are one body!

Through prayer we can communicate and nourish our relationship with Jesus.

But through prayer we also have the ability to communicate with one another and exchange ‘spiritual goods’!  We can pray to God for one another here on earth so that graces may be granted and intentions answered.

 We can pray for consolation for the souls in purgatory and to help them advance into Heaven. 

We can also pray to the saints and ask for them to intercede for us to help us with our burdens in life and to overcome our struggles. 

This fraternity between all the members of the Body of Christ is so special.

 It needs to be recognised, remembered and exercised so that we may make more of the opportunities we have to enhance our own and each other’s spiritual lives.

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring (the) good news!" (Romans 10:13-15))

The saints lived their lives for Christ, and in doing so, made an impression on the world. 

The footsteps on our cross represent those Holy people who have gone before us.  We should try to follow in their footsteps as they act as our signposts to Christ.

 

Note that their path remains close to the vine.  We too must stay close to Jesus.

Each and every one of us are called to be saints. 

If we seek the truth and fall in love with Jesus so as to allow Him to transform our lives then we can achieve sainthood.  We can then be  that example, that light, those footprints for others.



 

 

Cross reflection week 9.


We began our tour with a humble wooden cross.  Just as Jesus transformed His cross, a symbol of torture and death into a sign hope, life and love we are intent on transforming this simple structure into a beautiful work of art full of light and life.  The ongoing work on our cross also helps us reflect on each of our own lives and our own need for continual spiritual transformation and renewal to become closer to Jesus. 

 “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, Worship the Lord with gladness: Come before Him with joyful songs”  (Psalm 100)

We must always be joyful.  Joy, however, should not be confused with happiness.  We are sure to experience suffering, pain, loss and disappointment at some point in our lives.  No-one can expect to escape the cross.  The difference, however, is that, as Christians, we refuse to let our sorrow rob us of our joy.  We must recognise Jesus in every detail of our lives.  He is the delight in our celebration and the comfort in our sorrow.  We must look to find out what He can teach us through each experience.  Be they triumphs or trials, He is present always. 

This week our cross sings out the joy of the Gospel.  From the very centre of the cross, from within the Eucharist we have music notes and little hearts bursting with joy and love!  We will find joy and a song in our hearts by remaining in Christ.  Let us remember to return often to the Eucharist in communion and in adoration to have our hearts refreshed, refilled and renewed with Gods love and joy.  Our hearts yearn for Him and only He can satisfy us.  He fills us with a joy that the world cannot provide.

 

When we love God and want to praise and thank Him we can sing!  Is there a more powerful way to express our joy and share our celebrations with others than through song?  St Augustine said that “ to sing once was to pray twice”.  The music notes remind us of the joyful song in our hearts.  We must sing praise, pray and give thanks often.  It is only in spending time with Jesus and developing our relationship with Him that we will be able to accept the great love and the deep joy he has to offer us.  This love can transform our lives and bring us untold blessings.  There are ten hearts on our cross representing a decade of the rosary.  Our Lady helps us to pray to Jesus .  We contemplate the mysteries of His life and try to follow Jesus’ example in our own lives. 

St Augustine also said “Sing to the Lord a new song”.  If we continue singing the same tired old song with our lives our relationship will become stagnant.  Every encounter with Jesus gives us the opportunity to grow more in His likeness.  With His help our lives can become a greater reflection of His goodness. 

Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  It is not a special gift given to a select few: it is simply a result of living in God.

Do not be afraid to let your light shine and let others see your joy so that they might also search for Jesus.