"When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men to myself " (Jn 12:32). As I stood among the concelebrants surrounded by about 20,000 people at Mass in the National Shrine of Brazil, Our Lady, "Aparecida", I felt that I had received an insight, a grace that I had hoped for in my brief visit to this place which is one of the most important axes of Christian Faith on the American continent. The huge crowd was something normal for a Saturday here, but as Holy Week was only a week away, the power of all these people singing "Misericórdia, Senhor, tende piedade,” “Mercy Lord, have mercy," cried out to heaven with a particular intensity.
I have been in the middle of another Holy Cross Family Ministry trip that is taking me to our South American missions: Chile, Peru, Brazil and Mexico. On a trip like this I seem to get something of a panoramic view of the world—and the Church—and the Congregation at work. I stress "at work" because that is what I see: our guys working hard everywhere, often feeling nearly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the needs and the demands of extensive ministries, which can make our efforts feel so limited.
One thing appears sadly noteworthy from my recent visits to South America: the onslaught of consumerism and materialism that is markedly greater than it was even five years ago. It seems like something of a tsunami that is crashing into traditional cultures. In Evangelii Gaudium, Ch. 2, Pope Francis describes both clearly and compassionately this situation in which we now need to preach the Gospel - with JOY and HOPE - in a world that is experiencing "processes of dehumanization" which may be "hard to reverse".
I ponder so often, what, then, is our mission, our voice, in Holy Cross and, particularly, in Holy Cross Family Ministries?
In the middle the Aparecida Basilica, a huge cruciform Church where the altar - the Eucharist - is clearly at the very center, I witnessed the answer. It was Mary, the Mother and the Icon of the Church who had brought her children together in a beautifully tender and immensely powerful way to experience and to proclaim to the whole world that the Cross of Christ is our hope – in fact our only hope.
Lord willing, I will be celebrating the Paschal Triduum among the mountain communities in our parish in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I know that in a humble yet infinitely powerful way, together with Our Lady of Sorrows, we will be lifting up Christ so that He will draw all to himself. Then, throughout the year let us continue to lift Him up in all the ways we can!
Fr. Jim Phalan, C.S.C., is the Director of Family Rosary International, which is a part of Holy Cross Family Ministries. HCFM was founded by Servant of God Patrick Peyton, a Holy Cross priest who had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother and preached that the “family that prays together, stays together.” Fr. Phalan will be writing for the Spes Unica Blog each month to share with us the great work of Family Rosary International, yet Family Ministries is one of the creative ways that Holy Cross continues to reach across borders of every sort to spread hope. Learn more about the missionary work of Holy Cross.