Sunday we were at St. Anthony’s in Cambridge for the Feast of the “Santo Cristo dos Milagres.” We had perfect weather for the thousands of people who participated.
I have always loved these Portuguese “festas.” I find them great intergenerational events. The little children dressed as angels and shepherds, the teenagers played with their bands, the men carried the statue and the women cooked and organized. These events really bring the whole family -- the whole community -- together.
The Santo Cristo feast is traced to the devotion the people have to a statue that is in Ponta Delgada in San Miguel in the Azores Islands.
It is a beautiful statue of what we call the ‘‘Ecce Homo,’’ a depiction of Christ from the Gospel when Pilate brings him before the people and says, ‘behold the man.’
Christ is crowned with thorns, scourged, wearing the purple military cloak that they put on him to mock him, and holding the reed in his hand as if it were a scepter. So the ‘‘Ecce Homo’’ it is very much an image of Christ at that moment when Pilate presents him to the crowd and the crowd responds, ‘crucify him, we want Barabbas.’
I preached on the feast and talked about how St. Theresa of Avila, in her memoirs talks about how as a young religious she was very mediocre and not particularly devout and one day she was walking down the corridor in the convent and saw the image of a scourged Christ, crowned with thorns, and for the first time in her life she realized how much Christ loves us. That was the beginning of a very special grace of conversion in her life--from the very frivolous and mediocre sister she became the tireless reformer, Santa Theresa of Avila. So I invited the people to look at this image of Christ and try to see it with new eyes and realize the message and how much our Lord loves us and that he is looking at us with love even as we behold him.
In the procession there was a young man named C.J. with blue hair cut in a Mohawk, so I could not pass up the opportunity.
It reminded me that when I was a little boy, my brother and I went to the barber and had him cut our hair as Mohicans. My mother was so upset she made us wear baseball caps till our hair grew back in! I didn’t dye my hair though because in those days we didn’t know you could make your hair blue!
(Wednesday, May 13), I met with the pro-life directors of the New England dioceses.
One of the topics of discussion was a new resource on end of life issues developed by Peter Cataldo of the diocese of Manchester entitled “Three Beliefs”. Peter is a bioethicist affiliated with the National Catholic Bioethics Center and who also serves as the Respect Life Coordinator for the Diocese of Manchester.
Peter has developed a Catholic guide on the durable power of attorney for health care in New Hampshire that includes an overview of three fundamental beliefs of Catholics on informed conscience on life-sustaining treatment and care.