Naturally we in Holy Cross speak and preach a lot about the power of the Cross and that the Cross is our ultimate sign of hope. It is such an integral part of our history and our charism and in many ways it shapes how we approach our ministry. However every now and then there are still moments when I am absolutely floored by the power of Christ's Cross and one of those moments was this past Good Friday. As our parishioners each venerated the Cross I could not but help get a little overwhelmed.
As priests we are often privileged to share in both the joys and the sorrows of our parishioners. We get to celebrate the joyful times, but we also listen, counsel, and grieve during the difficult times. This means we generally have a pretty good idea of the various trials and tribulations our parishioners are going through. That someone might be caring for an elderly parent who is not doing well or another is dealing with a difficult child. That there is a couple having difficulties with their marriage or someone is facing an uncertain future at work. This is a privilege not because we get the "inside dirt" on people's private lives, but because people see in us the comforting presence of Christ and His Church. We certainly do not have all the answers for these problems, but what we can offer is the assurance that the Lord is present in our sufferings and that our trials can help us grow closer to Him in His passion, that the cross really is our only hope.
How moving it was then to watch parishioner after parishioner come forward and venerate the cross on Good Friday. As various people made their veneration I could not help but think of whatever particular cross in their life they were embracing, of what pain, what struggle, what sorrow they were venerating, trusting in the power of Christ's Cross and Christ's love. This experience made our motto very real and very profound. That our proclamation of "Hail the Cross, our only hope" is not just a pious thought or comforting phrase, but a very real and often very painful embracing of difficulties in the sure and certain hope that "there is no failure the Lord's love cannot reverse, no humiliation He cannot exchange for blessing, no anger He cannot dissolve, no routine He cannot transfigure." That even the Cross can be born as a gift.
Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., is transitioning from being an associate pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in South Bend, Ind to rector of Old College, the undergraduate seminary on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. He himself entered seminary while he was a student at Notre Dame. He professed Final Vows in 2012 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2013. He is originally from Flushing, N.Y.