September 13, 2020

During the “Season of Creation,” we offer the following meditations on the rosary written by the Franciscan Action Network. They
are primarily to help us realize that Christ came into this world and that, like Christ, we are called to shape the world around us in a
way that reflects our inherent dignity and worth as well as the dignity and worth of God’s creation that surrounds us.

This week we use the Sorrowful Mysteries.

1. Agony in the garden: Knowing that the time when His horrifying death was to be fulfilled, Jesus left his followers to pray in
the garden at Gethsemane. He left his companions, whom He
loved very much, to find solitude and consolation in nature, and
there was able to receive the comforting presence of angels.
a. Do we, like Christ before us, look for God and look for God’s
comforting solace in nature? Are we able to find solace from
God’s presence in the small things in life, those moments of respite among flowers, trees and vegetation?
b. Reflect on Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God took man and put him
 in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Human beings
 began in the garden to be in union with God; do we return
 there, in either the physical or spiritual sense?


2. Scourging at the pillar: Jesus is taken and tied to a stone
 pillar, where he is cruelly whipped and scourged. His agonizing
 death begins, and those who have had a chance to stop the
 horrible events or stand with Christ have neglected to do so.

a. Have we neglected standing with God in solidarity of protecting
 the integrity of God’s creation?
b. Again call to mind our responsibility to stand with the lowly,
 the persecuted and the downcast. If we were present at the
 scourging, what party would we be? Those who openly
 persecuted and whipped Jesus, those who ran away or would we 

try to protect His dignity? What response would that look like today as God’s creation, as well as
 the disadvantaged, are “scourged” by a world that is often hostile to anything that stands in the
 way of interests of the most powerful? As the USCCB said in a statement in February 2010: “People
 living in poverty-both at home and abroad-contribute least to climate change but they are likely to
 suffer its worst consequences with few resources to adapt and respond.” Like Christ, they are
 innocent of any wrongdoing and yet are punished for seemingly no reason.

3. Crowning of thorns: In order to humiliate Jesus, a crown of thorns was woven and placed on His
 head. This perhaps epitomizes that we are able to betray the inherent goodness in both our fellow
 human beings and the world that God has created by twisting them to our own narcissistic
 purposes.
a. Do we have a tendency to view the world around us as something to be used for our own purposes?
 Do we twist creation to the point of abuse?
b. Though the thorns were meant to cause Jesus pain and humiliation, He was eventually crowned in
 a glory that continues through our faith and witness. All creation, however, is supposed to give
 witness to God’s glory. As Pope Francis points out, “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more
 and more like an immense pile of filth” (Laudato Si, 21). How can we help our planet to again
 reflect the glory of God?

4. Carrying of the Cross: I don’t think there are very many reflections as deep or as rich as that of
 the 4th Sorrowful Mystery. We are able to see Jesus in all of His human frailty; we see Him
 stumble, struggle and fall. We see the cruelty of the temporal rulers continue to make its way to the
 brutal climax. But we also are witnesses to small acts of hope through the actions of Simon and
 Veronica as well as Jesus’ strength in continuing to get up after falling. And these things are what
 we are called to do in our spiritual journey as well as helping one another in theirs.

a. This mystery calls to mind how we can alleviate Christ’s suffering, even today, through simple acts
 of kindness. Every time we perform an action-regardless of how small or seemingly insignificant,
 we are like Simon or Veronica helping carry Christ’s cross or wiping Christ’s bloody face. Acts such
 as picking up garbage strewn on the ground, planting a tree or garden, recognizing the humanity of
 a homeless person with a smile or a kind word or turning off a light switch all help to more fully
 bring Jesus’ glory to fuller recognition in the world.


5. Crucifixion: Christ our Lord dies on the cross. A profoundly heartbreaking event, commemo-
 rated whenever we gaze upon a crucifix, celebrate Mass or meditate on this mystery, it’s a terrible
 but necessary component of our salvation history.
a. What is the first mental image that comes to mind when you think about the death of Jesus? What
 do His surroundings look like? For many, we probably think about dark, stormy clouds while His
 followers are mourning His death and others are cheering it. The light of Jesus, at least temporary-
 ly, has been extinguished.
b. When we “crucify” Christ by doing things detrimental to harkening His Kingdom, we summon those
 same storm clouds. We’re called to love and care for all of God’s creation in its infinite goodness.
c. Remember also the Earth rumbled and shook, terrifying the people who were witnesses to the
 crucifixion. As Christ groans in agony, so does the Earth and as Earth groans in agony so does
 Christ.
       Fr. Jeff