The Well (el Pozo) at the Basilica of St. Rose

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day Five - Rose of the Cross

I was reminded by a viewer that day five comes after day four.  Please forgive the wrong date yestreday.  However, the content was correct, the title, "Day Five" was wrong.  Yesterday was Rose of Compassion - Day Four.

Asceticism is the practice of voluntary self-discipline in order to achieve a higher or spiritual ideal. From the Greek askein, which means "to practice an art or skill," this term referred to the exercises of athletes. The various Greek philosophical schools used asceticism as a system of moral practices to free men of vices. Plato, for example, viewed asceticism as a means to free the soul.

History shows that ascetic lifestyles have appeared in both religious and secular settings. For example, ancient Hebrew sects fasted in order to become Holy, early Greeks undertook a regimen of severe physical discipline to prepare for battle, and Stoic philosophers disciplined their will against a life of sensual pleasure to achieve spiritual goals. Christian monks eschewed the comforts of the world for the solitude of the desert. Following the Reformation, Puritans endured the hardwood pews of freezing New England meeting halls.

Monks, yogis, rabbis and priests also lead ascetic lives. Lao Zi, Buddha, Mahavir Swami, Saint Anthony, and Saint Francis can all be considered ascetics. These people left their families, possessions, and homes to live a mendicant life, and in the eyes of their followers demonstrated great spiritual attainment, enlightenment, or God realization.

The ascetic way of life reached the New World and the young Rose of Saint Mary enjoyed this harsh form of spirituality. She endured many hardships, mostly voluntary, for the sake of her oneness with Jesus.

As mentioned, Rose lived virtually as a recluse within her little oratory in the family garden.
She often wore on her head a silver crown with sharp points, in memory of the Lord's crown of thorns. After some protest, she agreed to wear on top of the thorns a crown of roses.

Other forms of penitence which she inflicted on her body were floggings, administered three times daily, the wearing of a hair shirt, and the dragging of a heavy, wooden cross about the garden. She rubbed her lips with gall and often chewed bitter herbs to deaden the sense of taste. Both eating and sleeping were reduced to a minimum.

If this way of life is hard for us to imagine, it also offended her family, who preferred their daughter to follow the more conventional and accepted ways of holiness. But, for Rose, these practices helped her subdue her lower instincts - to survive in this world – and to long for God and the world to come. Saint Paul - who endured many hardships for the sake of the Gospel - proclaimed, “I live in this world, but I am not of this world,” and again, “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,” and still again, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”


Rose of the Cross,
You set your heart on treasures not from this world
But from the Kingdom of God.

You knew that this world was a place of passage
And that even the cross, as real as it may seem,
Could not compare with the glory of eternal life in heaven.
By embracing the cross, you embraced our Lord.

By embracing Jesus, you became Christ for those around you.

Pray for me, that I may learn to endure my daily crosses in life
And learn to embrace them
So that I may come to know Jesus more and more each day.

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