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Celebrities, confessions and the Cross

Meg Mirshak | Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today’s dining hall buzz is that [insert celebrity recording artist name here] has been spotted strolling around campus. The country-pop music singer is seen getting out of a black Escalade between Touchdown Jesus and the Stadium. Then, she struts up South Quad before making her way to Starbucks for a skinny vanilla latte.

Students squirming in their DeBartolo seats send mass texts to all their friends. Some unabashedly grab their cameras from their dorm rooms to prove on Facebook she is actually at Notre Dame. The Observer assigns its best reporters and photographers to get the story.

If a celebrity visits our campus, many of us race to see her. We welcome the music singer with screams, requests for autographs and photos together. Don’t try to deny it.

This Sunday, will you choose to celebrate another well-known man? The Church commemorates the triumphant entrance of Christ into the city of Jerusalem. Crowds gather, lay down their cloaks for Him to walk on, and cut branches from the palm trees to wave in veneration. Christ returns to his home city to complete his work as our saving Messiah. People praise Him with shouts of “Hosanna in the highest. Blessed are you who have come to us so rich in love and mercy.”

Palm Sunday begins the paschal mystery of Jesus’s suffering, death and rising again to new life. The days following his glorious entry into Jerusalem are darkened by the mystery of the cross. Why do we begin such a solemn week with such a lively, joyful celebration?

We celebrate the coming of a Lord filled with love and mercy. Holy Week, the most solemn of days in the Church calendar, calls us to remember that Jesus willfully and obediently accepts the Cross. Christ forgives His children of their sins and lovingly promises us a share in His kingdom.

This Holy Week is an opportunity for us to strengthen our lives by using the Lord’s example of love and mercy that leads Him to the Cross. During the last Lenten days, how can we show others that love is stronger than death? Look to the mercy poured out on the Cross.

Occasions for love and forgiveness abound each day on our campus. Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., wrote “Human life is like a great way of the Cross … This Way of the Cross is everywhere and we travel it every day, even in spite of ourselves and without being aware of it.”

Be aware of the Way of the Cross this week. You may meet someone who is weeping or sorrowful, or needs help carrying a heavy load. You may be called to love even when it is not the easy or pretty thing to do. Get out of the way and do the work of Christ.

Be merciful as Christ is merciful. Repent for your own failures and humiliations, and pardon those who have angered or wronged you. In forgiveness, we love life more than death. We reverse the suffering caused by our own humanity.

Seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation when needed. Consult schedules for Holy Week in the Basilica. Confessions are offered multiple times each day, including 10:15 p.m. Tuesday night following the campus-wide Stations of the Cross.

To genuinely receive Christ the King as we commemorate on Palm Sunday, we need to awaken ourselves to our shortcomings. In what ways do we fail to love despite being loved so much by Christ? The more we seek to love and forgive, the more we are ready to rise, lay down our cloaks and carry palm branches.

Love and forgiveness can permeate our campus this Holy Week and fill it with special graces. Let’s make that our last Lenten promise, and then we will run enthusiastically towards the Cross that holds the hope of our Easter salvation.

Meg Mirshak is an intern in the Office of Campus Ministry. She can be reached at mmirshak@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.