"The shrill, piercing cry of the aging Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen ricocheted off the walls of the Church of St. Agnes, in New York City, on Good Friday, April 8, 1977.
'If you're the Son of God, come down from that Cross. Come down and we'll believe.'
Sure they'll believe; they'll believe anything, just no Cross. No mortification, no self-denial!' He continued, 'Many say `I'll believe anything! I'll believe He's Divine! I'll believe in His Church; I'll believe in His pontiff, only no Cross! no sacrifice!' George Bernard Shaw said of the Cross; `It's that that bars the way.' Sure it bars the way. It bars the way to hell.'"
Lord, I want to cry out: What pain did You feel when You stood before Pilate and looked at Your children, Your loved ones, the ones You had come to Earth to save, and they were chiming in with a small band of self-serving dissidents, choosing a murderer in place of You?
How did you begin the Way of the Cross, when more dead than alive, the centurions having made sport of You, You were flung into a pit. As minutes ticked slowly into hours, the walls of the cave, marked with blood and sweat, bore silent witness to those who had suffered before You, Dear Lord. The centurions, products of years and ancestry worshipping false, empty gods, dared to disdainfully peer down on You, jeering, taunting, jabbing at Your brutally bruised Body. But Your spiritual pain was greater than any they could physically inflict on You.
Did Your thoughts wander back to another time, a time lost in the all too short, wonderful yesterdays of life with two devoted parents? Did you remember the look on their faces, when, at twelve years of age, after furtively searching for You for three days, they found You preaching in the Temple?
I am sure they thought nothing could ever equal the stark fear and torturous anguish of that moment. Was Your greatest Cross, thinking back to that time in the Temple, or to the present moment on the Cross, and the impending pain looming before Your dear Mother, the sorrow She was at that very moment enduring, and the fear that was piercing her Heart, once again not knowing what terror had befallen You?
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Lord, had You seen all the sins that had been committed and those that were yet to be committed, down through the centuries, some even in Your Name? Did You see one holocaust after another, one more horrible than the one before? How You must have wept, when You foresaw Your chosen people being herded into cattle cars, leading them to their horrible deaths in the concentration camps! If man had not done enough to wound You, a new holocaust would follow, a greater holocaust, killing more of your people, only one of innocent babies, trustfully awaiting birth in their mothers' wombs! Is that why You sweat Blood and Tears in the Garden of Gethsemane?
Lord! Lord! Lord, I cry out in the silence of my heart, How did You walk to the Cross and the most horrible, degrading death, knowing how unfaithful and selfish some of the best of Your children would become, how quickly and easily they would succumb to the wiles and lies of the enemy of God?
Dawn began to slowly, mournfully rise, a sword of light cut through the darkness of night, exposing that which had been done and that which was to follow. The Angels had been standing guard, during the long night. Now they stood as heralds of man's conscience wanting the world to know the part man had played. Then it was time! You stood before them, bleeding, Your Skin hanging pitifully, barely hiding the trauma to Your Precious Body. Your Hair no longer gleamed as it had when You walked among them, teaching, healing, bringing new hope. Now all they could see was a cruel crown, scornfully formed with thorns more than four inches long, piercing Your Skull, Your Precious Blood matting Your disheveled hair, already caked by mud from the Earth You had created.
They handed Yoxu a Cross meant for another, Lord. Though more dead than alive, you opened Your Arms to warmly embrace it. You began the Walk to the Cross. Lord, we have followed Your footsteps along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem during Holy Weeks past and would You believe, they still stand outside their stores hawking their wares, business as usual? We stop, pray and pause at each station.
As humanity presses in, closer and closer to us, at times almost crushing us, the reality of what happened here is vividly coming to light. I can still hear Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: It was not those who had rejected Him, denied Him, abandoned Him, spit on Him, mocked Him, nailed Him to the Cross that hurt Him the most; if was those who just stood by and did nothing. They didn't care! My God, they didn't care! I want to cry! How could they have not cared?
But then Lord, it is 2000 years later. We should know Who You are, by now! Why do we not run beside You, take the Cross from Your precious Shoulders and carry it part of the way? Do we know You? Better yet, do You have a place in our lives today, in this world of haves and want mores? Lord, if you were to ask any one of those who call themselves Christians, if they believe in You, they would say yes, and they would mean it! But ask them if they have any time for You. Oh, Lord, I'm sorry, I have poured salt into Your Wounds. It is not for You we have written this book. You and we know how we feel about You. It is for that one child of Yours who loves You and does not know he can do more to show his love for You; and in so doing save the world.
We adore Thee O Lord and we bless you
Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.