- Here’s a short interview I did with Catholic Book Blogger Pete Socks on the JPII Biblical Way of the Cross:
- In the interview I refer to an article about Beth Holloway, the mother of Natalee Holloway, the young woman who disappeared while in Aruba on a class trip. The family was from Birmingham, and the article is in a local magazine. I was struck by the powerful encounter that Beth Holloway – a Methodist – had with a Stations of the Cross in Aruba. I quote it in the interview, but I’ll do so here as well:
The first few years after 2005 were a search for answers more so than a search for happiness; it took a moment of revelation at a small Catholic church in Aruba for Holloway to begin moving forward again after Natalee’s disappearance. Holloway was raised as a Methodist, with a mother who taught her that God is good, and a grandmother who told her, “Lay your burdens at the cross.” On her fourth morning in Aruba, those lessons came into sharper focus for Holloway. She found a taxi and asked the driver to take her somewhere to pray. “He pulled over and there was a large white cross, and he told me to get out of the car, and as I did, I walked to the cross and just fell to the cross on my knees and just started crying and begging and praying to God to give Natalee back,” she says. “I got up, and I went to next cross, repeated my same prayers and dropped to my knees and kept praying and crying and begging for God to give her back.”
After days of searching for her missing daughter, Holloway says she was in unbearable pain. Though she was unfamiliar with the Catholic tradition of the stations of the cross, she instinctively went from cross to cross, each time seeking an answer. Finally, on the fifth or sixth station, she found one. “Complete peace blanketed me, and in that instant somehow I then knew that Natalee was with God, and I knew that he had cared for her through whatever ordeal she had encountered that night, and that’s when I became at peace,” she says. “When my grandmother was always saying, ‘Lay your burdens at the cross,’ I got, at that point, what she was saying. I laid the burden of caring for Natalee at the cross. The work to find out what happened to her had to be done, but the burden was taken from me.”
When Catholic churches embody the Gospel in its art, architecture and devotional objects, and those churches are open – people encounter Christ.
3. Today’s Gospel is Matthew 25:31- . Years ago, Mike brought together Bishop Robert Baker and the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel to write a book called When Did We See You, Lord? Read more about it here.
So, yes, mercy. How does it happen? How does God communicate his mercy and love to this hurting world? Through us, and in many ways, first and most importantly through one person’s outreach to another.
But also, this:
To construct churches that tell the story of Jesus through their design, art and even just their very presence among us, standing firm in the midst of the city or as a quiet faithful herald on a country road; to erect a roadside shrine; to paint and sculpt images and symbols that bring the Gospel and the saints who have embraced into into the present moment – and to make the sacrifices necessary to keep it all open and available to any and all passers-by?
That’s a work of mercy.