WEEK ONE: The Creed
DAY 4: What Are You Afraid Of? (Sin, Salvation, and the Cross of Jesus)
Fear is a natural human condition. The following are considered some of the most common fears. Which do you share?
Spiders, snakes, heights, closed spaces, lightning, injections, social situations, flying, germs/dirt, public speaking, darkness
It often seems as though we have many things to fear. Perhaps this is why one of the most commonly used phrases in the Bible is the phrase, “Do not fear” or variations such as “do not be afraid,” “fear not,” “be not afraid.” A search of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible reveals that this phrase and its variations appear in the Bible over 150 times! This should give us a clue that we are on to something, that the role of fear in the story of our salvation is very important. The ultimate human fear, of course, is our fear of death. We all know it’s going to happen to us some day but we still have great fear. Yet the central message of our faith is that Jesus Christ has conquered death!
For Christians, the symbol of that victory – our trophy, so to speak – is the Cross of Jesus Christ! And yet, the Cross certainly does not look like a trophy. In fact, it appears to be a symbol of defeat. It is only through the Resurection of Jesus that this symbol of death and defeat is transformed into a symbol of victory over that which we fear most: death, the ultimate consequence of sin.
And so, we Christians rejoice in the Cross. I’ve often told people that if I could add one rubric to the Mass, I would have the assembly applaud when the Cross enters to lead us in procession! But since that’s not going to happen :), instead we sing!
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.
Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.
Each newborn servant of the Crucified
Bears on the brow the seal of Him Who died.
O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
As Thou hast promised, draw the world to Thee.
So shall our song of triumph ever be:
Praise to the Crucified for victory.
So, today, think of what it is you fear most at this time in your life and then slowly and prayerfully pray the Sign of the Cross, asking the Risen Christ to dispel the darkness of fear from your life and to replace it with confident hope and faith as we approach this Year of Faith.
Reflection Questions: Choose one of the following questions and share your thoughts with your fellow retreatants by adding your comments in the comments box below this post)
- What is a fear that you have overcome? How did that happen?
- Why do you think people are afraid of death?
- How does the Resurrection of Jesus Christ take away our greatest fear?
- Look at the words of the song “We Shall Overcome.” How is this song related to the death and Resurrection of Jesus?
- What does it mean to compare the Cross of Jesus to a trophy?
- How can you help to dispel others’ fears?
- How can faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ help us to battle despair?
Lord, God, help me to live without fear. During this Year of Faith and beyond, help me to look upon the Cross of Christ Jesus and to see that Jesus understands my greatest sufferings and my greatest fears, and that he has overcome them by conquering the greatest fear of all—death. Help me, Lord, to know, deep in my heart, that we shall overcome some day.
- A Thousand Fears – Finding Beauty Amidst Suffering
- The Grace of Detachment
- Best Ignatian Songs: After the Storm
- How to Live Without Fear
- Managing Anger and Fear
CCC References: 571 – 682
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I hope you’re enjoying our online summer retreat, Preparing for a Year of Faith! Take a few minutes each day at your convenience to “gather” here on my blog as we seek to add some flavor to our faith lives by deepening our understanding of the truths of our faith as given to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.