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Cradle to Grave

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ

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by Fr. Angelo Casimiro, MIC

Fifteenth of a 20-part series on the Mysteries of the Rosary. Next week: The Resurrection. Note: this article originally ran in the Dec. 2013 issue of the Thirteenth of the Month Club newsletter; hence the connection between the cross and Christmas.

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Him and the criminals there, one on His right, the other on His left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" — Luke 23:33-38.

When I was asked to write a Rosary reflection on the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery for this December issue, I thought how odd it would be to talk about the crucifixion and death of Christ during the month in which we are preparing to celebrate the birth of the Messiah.

However, if we stop and think about it, all of the key events that happened during the earthly life of our Lord some 2,000 years ago were interconnected.

I was in a church one Christmas where I could see the manger right below the crucifix. That one image perfectly captured the story of our salvation: both the manger and the cross were wooden instruments of His self-gift. The Infant Jesus in the manger is just as much a manifestation of His self-donating love and humility as the cross. In fact, it's interesting how the images of Christmas and Good Friday are so intertwined. At His Nativity, we see Our Lady cradling Jesus as a little baby. At His death, we see her again, but this time she's cradling the dead body of our Lord after He was taken down from the cross.

Each event occurred in a place from which the world would draw life — one in the House of Bread (Bethlehem) and the other at the Place of the Skull (Golgotha). We know the cross is life-giving because on the cross Christ conquered death, saved us from our sins, and opened the gates to eternal life. I believe that's why we Catholics have crucifixes in our churches and homes: We always need to keep the cross before
us. It is the cross — the instrument of our salvation — and the Resurrection — hope in everlasting life — that sustain us in this valley of tears.

When I think of the crucifixion and death of our Lord, it reminds me of my mom's death from cancer a few years ago. Jesus let me experience a small taste of His Passion. I believe God never abandons us, even though at times we may not feel His presence. Looking back on the great suffering my family and I went through when my mom died, I know that God was right there with us, embracing us, consoling us in our sorrow. And I know the Blessed Mother was right there at the foot of the cross with us as well, just as she was at the foot of the cross at Golgotha with Jesus, her Son.

Pray for everyone who suffers this Christmas as though it were Calvary, that the Lord of all consolation and the Blessed Mother might send grace and strength to them in their time of need.

Joyful Mysteries
1. The Annunciation
2. The Visitation
3. The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus
4. The Presentation in the Temple
5. The Finding in the Temple

Luminous Mysteries
1. The Baptism of Jesus
2. The Wedding at Cana
3. The Proclamation of the Gospel
4. The Transfiguration
5. The Institution of the Eucharist

Sorrowful Mysteries
1. The Agony in the Garden
2. The Scourging at the Pillar
3. The Crowning with Thorns
4. The Carrying of the Cross
5. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus

Glorious Mysteries
1. The Resurrection
2. The Ascension
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4. The Assumption
5. The Coronation

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