“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to look at the Crucifix, focus on the Cross.” With calm determined authority the exorcist priest utters these words addressed to the energumen (a person believed to be possessed by an evil spirit) during the major rite of exorcism. Often I have witnessed how the demons are tormented by having to stare at the Crucifix held in the hands of the Lord’s anointed priest. The evil spirits strongly resist having to look at the Cross but they are bound to obey the priest because of the authority granted to him. This is a telling indication of the power of the Crucifix for defeating evil.
I marvel at the unfailing authority of the Roman Catholic priesthood and the power of the Cross to perpetuate Christ’s victory. Sometimes during the major Rite, I find myself starring at the Crucifix also, captivated by the Lord Jesus who laid down His life to save, heal and free humanity from the tyranny of sin, death, and evil. For the one third fallen angels the Crucifix is their defeat, eternal damnation. For believers the Crucifix is the perfect sacrifice of love and the school of Divine Mercy.
Scriptures related to the power of the Cross
Here are four scriptures representative of the power of the Cross.
- Mathew 27:39-40: And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross. Note: The words, “Come down from the Cross” represent a demonic tactic then and now. The devil will always tempt us to throw away the Cross or to do away with co-redemptive suffering. Why? Because the evil one is defeated by the incarnational love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Demonic pride is utterly defeated by the perfect sacrifice of divine love and humility.
- Colossians 1:13: He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…
- 1 John 3:8: He who commits sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
- Hebrews 2:14-15: Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage
The Cross: Victory of Love
Twenty-six years ago, by the grace of God, I underwent a powerful conversion, a reversion actually. In the years following, I intentionally began an intense sacramental life focused on the Church’s liturgical life. Daily Mass and holy hour became the center of my prayer life. During holy hours, I often found myself starring above the Tabernacle or Monstrance to the Crucifix. I reported to my spiritual director that I experienced incredible consolation when gazing at the Crucifix. Filled with newfound fervor of soul, I longed to be with Christ on the Cross, to remain close to His pierced Sacred Heart, to share the experience of His suffering and see everything through His holy eyes of eternal wisdom. My spiritual advisor who lived seventeen years in a Trappist Monastery had great depth of knowledge and experience in the interior life. He replied calmly, “Interesting. You do not have any suffering in your life presently. Well, I suppose the Lord is working within you to prepare, teach and lead you along the same path of His journey to the Cross. Let yourself be led by the Holy Spirit. Keep gazing at the Crucifix with eyes of wonder, gratitude and love. In time, we will see the fruit.” He was correct. Suffering would find me later. Good fruit manifested sooner.
As I continued to gaze at the Crucifix during daily holy hours, I began to perceive two important truths. First, I was part of Christ’s crucifixion. It was personal. My sin nailed Him to the wood. The fruit of this truth was repentance and a contrite heart. I was humbled. Secondly, Christ chose to rest His Sacred Body and Soul on the rough-hewn wood for love of me. Incarnational divine mercy kissed the Cross for the sake of love.
It was personal. He loved me that much. The words of St. Paul to the Ephesians seemed carved into my heart, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love” (Eph. 1:3-4). He chose me before the foundation of the world to be holy! That’s my identity! —Who I am before God.
I was purchased at an extravagant price. I cost the Lord of Lords, Kings of Kings, the Alpha and Omega— everything—the terror of crucifixion—every last drop of His Precious Blood. According to St. Bridget of Sweden (June 14, 1303- July 23, 1373), Christ revealed, “I received 5,475 blows to my Body.”
This Holy Week in the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy when we consider the Passion of Christ anew, let us be filled with immense compassion for the Lord. As we remember and contemplate the Lord who is lifted up onto the Cross we honor and adore the Suffering Servant. Let our hearts arise to meet Him face to face, heart to heart. We can offer gratitude, contrition, praise, sacrifice, and consecration to His Merciful Heart, a personal act of oblation; affirm our yes to His divine will. It is extremely consoling to know the truth of incarnational redeeming Divine Love that is personal, collective, and universal. On Good Friday, when we venerate the Cross we kiss the wood in acknowledgement of its saving power and grace because Christ kissed it first.
Reflection: O Passion of Christ!
O Passion of Christ, consecrate my heart. Anoint Love’s fervor all over my life. Create ardent desire to perpetuate Your sacrifice. That I live not for myself but only for You.
O Passion of Christ, become my praise and hymn of perfect charity. Be my fragrance of purity and joy. Lift my spirit into Yours that I may breath Love’s truth and augment Your sanctuary.
O Passion of Christ, unite me to Calvary. Open my eyes to see Your Glory. Wrap my arms around the Cross. Incline my ears to Your pierced Heart. Let the rhythm of sacrificial love resound in me.
O Passion of Christ, transfigure me! Crucify my wayward spirit. Create something new and beautiful. Yours is the power to transform! Change the sinner in me. Let holiness become my covering.
O Passion of Christ, the horror and shame of your death, the scandal of the Cross became eternal victory and glory! You confounded the cunning Serpent and opened the gate of heaven. Carry me there by the power of the Your Blood. Through your Holy Wounds, may I enter?
O Passion of Christ, engrave Your mercy into my soul. Let divine love reign in my life. Teach me of holy victimhood that I may die to self and rise in You. By Your stripes I am healed, set free to discover my true identity as a redeemed child. In freedom You lead me to live abundantly the gospel of life and your law of love. You change my suffering into joy. Thank you, Lord Jesus for Your Passion, Death and Resurrection!
O Passion of Christ, thank you for praying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). I receive Your mercy, O Lord.