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Cima da Conegliano painting from between circa 1488 and circa 1493public doman / Wikimedia Commons

April 1, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – It is with much joy that we present to our readers in the following days some reflections by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the former arch-priest of the Basilica of St. Peter who just retired.

The quiet and gentle cardinal became known during the corona crisis, since he led the daily rosary at St. Peter's begging Our Lady to help us to end the crisis. LifeSite reported how last year in April, he literally started crying when addressing our Lady, thereby expressing the agony of many people in the world and showing us how to turn to Mary the Mother of God in times of distress. With his humble and trusting words, he engraved himself in the hearts of many. At a time of empty churches, Cardinal Comastri was an enduring presence of the Church to the world.

Yet at the same time, the 79-year-old Cardinal has also shown that he has intellectual strength and courage. For example, in one of his reflections during his daily rosary at St. Peter's in May of last year, he explained that we need to recover the “courage” of Saint Francis of Assisi, who, in 1219, went to the Sultan of Egypt “inviting him to believe in Jesus.” We should all have that courage and become missionaries, even unto death, the elderly cardinal added. He reminded us that the Holy Ghost in us inspires us to be courageous witnesses when he stated “when the Holy Ghost enters our hearts, he fills us with fire. He fills us with love to go out and become courageous missionaries even to the point of shedding blood out of love for Jesus.”

On another occasion last year, during his daily rosary, the Italian prelate even consecrated Italy and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (see here at minute 35.35): “O Mary Immaculate, to you as our children we consecrate our life, our family, our Italy and the whole world. O Mary, always dispose of us according to your heart. And on the last day welcome us into your arms, present us to Jesus saying of us: they are my children. Then our soul will exult and our Paradise will begin. And it will be a Magnificat to God, with you, O Mary our Immaculate Mother.”

In light of his Catholic witness, it is nearly symbolic that the March 22 ban on individual Masses at St. Peter's that has caused such indignation among cardinals and bishops has only come after the retirement of Cardinal Comastri.

Our colleagues at the Daily Compass, the English edition of the Italian website Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, have kindly allowed us to reprint some of Cardinal Comastri's reflections on the Passion of Our Lord.

The following is the text written for Palm Sunday, in which the Italian prelate reflects upon the betrayal and weakness of Our Lord's disciples, as well as the shining example of humility and goodness as shown by Our Lady. As he says: “So here is a resolution and a commitment meant for everyone: be like Mary. Act humbly and, just like her, follow the Lord on His way to the Cross: it is the way of God's triumph and our own victory…” May these reflections be as such an inspiration to our readers as they have been to us.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Compass:

The victor is the one who gives their life for others, not the one who takes it away

The path indicated by Christ shuns Power, it leads to the Cross, this is the triumph of God. Let’s imitate Mary’s behaviour; let us be humble and together with her follow the Lord on the way of the Cross. This is also where our victory lies.

There was a time when people would often sing Christus vincit, Christus regnat!, which means, “Christ conquers, Christ reigns!” But what is God's victory? It is certainly very different from what we imagine.

In order to understand the way of God's victory, let us meditate on the meaning of some present day circumstances. First of all, let us look at how the multitude behaves. The masses shout, they sing, they pray! But they are always ambiguous. One day they are singing praises, and the next they are shouting blasphemies. One day they applaud with their hands, and the next they beat others with them.  The multitude is frightening: they are too capricious and moody.

What about our faith? What is our response to Christ's call? Praying is not enough. Going to Mass is not enough. Nor is exercising charity enough to be a Christian. Jesus said: “The one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mk 13:13). And again: ” No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:62).
True Christians are those who walk in Christ's footsteps every day with fidelity and perseverance!

But what is Christ's way like? Let us look at His behaviour. Jesus rejected Satan when he tempted Him with the way of Power. Jesus refused Satan because God does not win that way! Jesus fled when men wanted to proclaim Him king following His miracle of multiplying loaves. Jesus fled, because God does not win in this way! Jesus rebuked Peter when he tried to divert Him from continuing on the road to Jerusalem. Instead, Jesus walked decisively towards Jerusalem, towards His Cross because this is God's road, the road of His triumph!

And today we observe Jesus entering Jerusalem: His hour has arrived, the long-awaited hour! He appears meek, good, peaceful, apparently weak. In this way, Jesus taught us that goodness is the world's great strength.  Truly strong men are good men. Truly strong persons are those who have conquered violence within themselves. The winners are those who give up their lives for others and not those who take other people's live away. Have we taken to heart Jesus' lesson? Do we walk the way He does? Do we recognise ourselves in the decisions He made?

In the Passion there is not only Jesus present. there are also other characters who have prominent relationships to Jesus.
First there is Pontius Pilate: he is an indecisive man because he is empty. Whoever is empty of ideals can easily condemn others … even Christ. It was the same then as it is now.

Then there is Peter: he is hesitant because he is weak. Weakness is dangerous and is the basis for betrayal. Today, more than in any other age, weakness prevails and yet fidelity to God is paid with heroism.

There is also Judas: he is decisive about committing evil, because he is a proud man. Pride is the cancer of the soul. Pride is the root of all violence. Pride is a widespread evil. Pride is the beginning of our road to hell.

There are the high priests: they are people who knew the words but not the spirit of the Scriptures. They are people who used Scripture to bend it to their own perspectives, whereas they should have bent and converted to the Word of God.

Finally, there is Mary: she one who was determined to do good all the way up to the Cross, because Mary’s heart was filled with humility. During Christ's Passion, Mary reveals all her greatness and Elizabeth's prophetic words come to mind: “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.” (Lk 1:45). Mary is a believer: she is the creature who has trusted God blindly.

Which character do we have inside us? Jesus' Passion is still with us, so how do we act today during the Lord's final hours of suffering?

Perhaps we find ourselves behaving like Pilate or sometimes like Peter, or Judas or in even like the high priests…
So here is a resolution and a commitment meant for everyone: be like Mary. Act humbly and, just like her, follow the Lord on His way to the Cross: it is the way of God's triumph and our own victory…

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.

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