Thursday, October 14, 2010

That's Crazy Beautiful!

There are two types of crucifixes, those supporting the limp and broken body of a crucified Christ, and those displaying the victorious risen Christ. The San Damiano cross depicts the latter, a risen Christ reaching out to the world. In Assisi, Italy hundreds of centuries ago the Christ of this cross spoke to Francis, "rebuild my Church." These words lead to the full conversion of this young man born into wealth. Francis become poor, dependent, needy to experience the fullness of Christ's suffering and ultimate love.

Today, as I grabbed a quick bite to eat at my desk, I sat and reflected with a woman who I will call my soul friend. My friendship with her is one I deeply cherish for the simplistic environment we create, open and conducive to spiritual sharing. Be it in our office, at a restaurant, in the car, walking through campus, or on the phone, we find ourselves enthralled in spiritual conversation more often than not. I am told these friendships are rare in life, yet I am blessed enough to have a number of them.

Today, as we talked we found ourselves reflecting upon the Christ of the Crucifix. We agreed that the crucified, dead body of Christ was not one with which we felt connected. Rather, we embrace the risen Christ, the "active" Christ. I must give credit where credit is due and so I share that this following piece is a reflection from my soul friend, Kathy. The Risen Christ is an active Christ who reaches out from the cross into the world, our world. I wonder if this caught Francis' attention . . . Francis was a man of action . . . what did he see in the cross?

As we continued talking about the active crucified Christ I had an epiphany. When I was a student at West Chester University, I spent many countless hours in prayer sitting in the small chapel in the Newman Center. I was always captivated by the crucifix that hung above the tabernacle. I often brought my deepest heart's desires to the foot of that cross. As I sit here, a few years removed from that time in my life I realize that the cross that hung in that chapel is the same cross that graces the walls in every Franciscan home, the San Damiano cross. I don't know that I ever knew why the San Damiano cross hung in the Newman Center, but I feel more deeply connected to Francis in knowing that from the first real moments of my discerning religious life I was sitting in front of the very cross that Francis had so long ago.

How cool is God?! I wonder why this connection now? I'm sure I've realized it at other times in my journey, but it was not until today, not until Kathy made the connection of the active Christ reaching out from the cross, that I realized the fuller connection to the Franciscan life. Something drew me into the Franciscan world before I ever met a Franciscan, and that is crazy beautiful!

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