Our All Saints Blog

Crucifixes and Christians

main image

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him…He summoned the crowd and with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”

A lesson learned is a lesson well taught. If we have not learned our lessons well, then it’s because we have not been taught well.

In the past three days, I’ve been meditating and reflecting on the cross. As I mentioned before, the cross is only half a symbol of Christianity, for it is missing a very key component of Christianity: Christ.

It should be obvious to all that Christ is not the cross, for Christ was nailed to the Cross. Rather, the cross is a symbol of the sinner; that is, it is a symbol of me. Therefore, the real symbol of Christianity is not the cross; it is the crucifix. This is the true symbol of Christianity for it is the fullness of Christ’s ministry. Christ nailed himself to us, and He refuses to be separated from us. He is forever near to me, next to me, nailed to me. And that is very, very reassuring. Christ will never depart from me. He’s got my back FOREVER!

But with the loss in the meaning of the Cross, comes the loss in the meaning of the Christian. Let us never forget what the Christian does best: He follows the Lord, everywhere. Where He goes I must go. Where He leads I must lead. “If you wish to follow me, then pick up your cross and follow me.” Christ did not die for us so that we would have nothing to do for Him. He died for us so that we could die like Him, for our neighbor.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? …So also faith of itself, it is does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” (James 2:14-18)

Many Christians have not learned their catechism well! They think that an easy life is a blessed life. If you are one of the many who think that, then I invite you to think again. After all, there is no denying that the Lord lived a blessed life and a very difficult life almost all his life.

Is being a millionaire a sign of being blessed? Think again. I do not know of a single Saint that became a millionaire. I do, however, know of many Saints who were millionaires and gave their millions to enter a convent or a seminary. So, why do we think that in order to be blessed, we have to be filled with cash? Or, in order to be blessed we have to have a lot of free time.

If I have nothing to do, then chances are I will do nothing in my life. But if I have a ton of things to do, then chances are I will accomplish something in my life.

Take a good look at your life. Take a look at the decisions you’ve made. Now, take a good look at Christ’s life. Take a look at the decisions He made and the words He said. Analyze Him alongside yourself. Do you notice any differences in focus, interests, discipline, direction and decisions? If so, then bridge the gap! Bring yourself closer to Christ. If you do so, I guarantee you an immediate improvement in the quality of your life.

I think that most of us know by now that a life filled with pleasure often led to a life full of regrets and emptiness. Whereas (and most surprising of all), a life filled with struggles, pain, difficulties, and trials often led to a more meaningful, more romantic, more grateful and more powerful and purpose-filled life.

Tell me if you think I am wrong. But I have seen both cases far too often to doubt it anymore.

Christ nailed to the Cross teaches us four important life lessons: (1) there is no Christ without a Cross. (2) There is no Savior without a sinner. (3) There is no love without sacrifice. (4) There is no resurrection without crucifixion. Therefore, let us do as the Lord would do. Do not shrink from pain, difficulties or trials. Face them! Face them head on! Nail yourself to your cross. Or as St. Paul puts it: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”  

Every time I nail my triumph with Christ, I nail my future with His glory. Every time I nail my sin into Christ, I nail my faith, hope and love in His mercy and compassion. Every time I give God the last word, I turn my tragedy into triumph. Every time I die to myself, I rise with the Lord.

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”  

Posted by Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro with

Be Open!

main image

The problem with the world today is that there are too many narrow-minded people!

I know what you are thinking…Now that’s an interesting statement, especially coming from a priest who writes an opinion on just about everything! But I am not afraid to say it and, more importantly, defend it. In fact, I will even say that I consider myself a very open-minded individual and for the best of reasons.

I have no problem conversing with “tolerant” people; even though they are the least tolerant of all the people I know. I have no problem being in the presence of scientists, even though I am a priest. And I have no problem making friends with the dead, even though I live well into the present.

I mention these three companions because there is much narrow-mindedness (or single-mindedness) when it comes to those who oppose science as art, dogma as honesty and our past as reoccurring. Or, for the sake of clarity, let me say the following: Far too many narrow-minded individuals can be found among scientists, relativists and progressivists.    

Scientists. Now, there were many times in my life when I was “narrow-minded”.   For example, when I was an engineer I used to be very narrow-minded; that is, I would only read and breathe scientific journals. But then one day, in fact, while I was studying the planets, I had an epiphany that has lasted to this day. For the very first time in my life I realized that everything I was reading and studying was a human attempt at understanding all that already existed, and that we had no part in creating. What I was reading and studying was more like an art critic’s review of someone’s art, but the Artist was never mentioned.  

Now it’s easier to be a critic than it is to be an artist. At least, that’s how it used to be.

It gradually dawned on me that most everything we do is a cheap imitation of everything He did. Take, for example, the incredible descent of the Mars Rover, Curiosity. Wasn’t it spectacular? I stayed up all night watching it. But the next morning I saw something even more amazing: a single leaf gracefully falling to the ground. Actually, it was zigzagging towards the ground. What Curiosity will do on the surface of Mars does not even begin to compare with what that leaf will do on the surface of the earth.

Or let’s analyze for a brief moment a simple apple falling to the ground. Not only will that apple land on the ground, but it will roll next to its “mother”, whose shade will ensure its chances of survival. And like a placenta, the fruit surrounding the seed will fertilize the ground in which it lies. Now, to think all this as less remarkable than a Rover Landing on Mars is to think narrow-mindedly. But as a priest and engineer, I have learned to appreciate both. That’s not narrow-mindedness. That’s open-mindedness!

Relativists. So many people pride themselves in being Darwinists. But in all honesty, they have never read a single page of Charles Darwin or Ernst Haeckel. The same goes for atheists. Most have never read an entire book by Friedrich Nietzsche or Jean Paul Sartre. Instead, most have pleased themselves with newspaper headlines and comical acts produced and directed by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  

These professors, and their adherents, are not the product of the Dark Ages. Ironically, these morbid writers consider themselves the grandchildren of the Enlightenment. What they really are, are the grandfathers of the Establishment. Recently, it was revealed that a vast majority of college professors will reject tenure to a colleague if they are deemed to be too conservative. Most academics, like most colleges today, consider themselves open-minded. But in reality, they have never been anything but very closed-minded.

Let’s cut to the chase. The real difference between open-minded and narrow-minded individuals should be obvious by now. It’s the difference between intellectual honesty and ideology. Relativists tend to study little and speak wildly. Dogmatists tend to study a great deal and speak reservedly. In essence, narrow-minded individuals tend to study little and only pretend to accept everything; whereas open-minded individuals tend to study greatly and only cautiously accept anything.

Progressivists. There exists in today’s culture a very narrow-mindedness with regards to the past. It begins with a great deal of angst with the possibility of history repeating itself. It should not, declare the progressivists, for there is nothing good to learn from our ancestors or our past. But when we consider what’s new in today’s subculture, we begin to see that it is actually quite old from long ago days. For example: The three-generational home.   The only sector of housing construction that appears to be booming is the three-generational home. Wow! How exciting! How avant garde! But is this something new? Not really. In fact, it is something very old. And millions of Americans are returning to it in order to save their lives, their families and their livelihood. But you would never know it by the limited news it is receiving. After all, it is a dramatic push back to modernity’s push towards the “New Normal” family.    Only a courageous few dare to mention this modest return to the wisdom of our ancestors. How narrow-minded! And once again, the reason for this negligence is not ignorance but rather ideology. Out with the old, in with the new is an important ideological tweet in our free-market economy and culture. But it isn’t a reliable fact in a flesh and bone humanity or a safe bet in a free-falling economy. To think what is new is always better is not narrow-mindedness, but plain and simple foolishness.

What is new isn’t always better. But being better will always be something new!

This is something worth repeating to our kids, from one generation to another. Was the Occupy Wall Street movement something new and exciting? Or was it a failed attempt to repeat the performance of July 14th, 1789 (Bastille Day)? Is the European Union something new? Or is it a union as old as the Holy Roman Empire? You tell me.

I consider myself very open-minded every time I connect the past with the present, and predict the future based on the past and present.          

Conclusion: Here are just a few of the areas of life in which I find people to be very narrow-minded. There are many more. But unlike space, a blogspot is very limited. In conclusion, a narrow-minded individual tends to see the past as a thing of the past; religion as something that should be swept under the carpet; and creation as an accident rather than a God-given model.

Let’s be what the Lord said this day to be: “Be Open!”

The Lord had a tremendous ability to interact with just about anyone. But he didn’t live like everyone.

Authentically open-minded people tend to become authentically narrow-minded people. They are open-minded to learning, and narrow-minded in accepting only the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Posted by Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro with

Previous12345678910 ... 2526