which immediately brought to mind the oft-heard "real men don't cry." Which, in turn, brought to mind the realest of all "real men" (in fact we are only men as dim reflections of His Divine "cosmic" masculinity) - the man Christ Jesus and the most powerful two word sentence ever crafted, "Jesus wept." (John 11:35).
"If we don't learn how to cry, we can't be good Christians." Something to ponder. Do you, good reader, know how to cry? Do I? If we don't do we really love our neighbor as commanded by the Lord (cf. Mk 12:31)?
To see someone suffering and to turn a blind eye and a callous heart to his pain, is that something we want to be reminded of on the dies irae? "And the King answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me." (Matt 25:40). If we can't weep with Jesus at the pain of our brethren, His brethren, then can we weep with Mary at the foot of the Cross? If we don't love them, can we claim to love Him? "If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar. For he who loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not?" (1 Jn 4:20). And if we don't love God how can we hope to be saved (salvation is, in the end, nothing more or less than loving God forever.)
"This is challenge." Indeed, Holy Father it is. It is a reminder of the core calling of our Christian, of our Catholic, identity. "See how the Christians love one another" was the cry that launched the conversion of the Roman world (a world not exactly know for love - slavery, gladiatorial combat, infanticide, lust, greed, pride...). Is that what people say when they see you or I or our Catholic brothers in the world? They should. We (and we alone) share the full faith of those first Christians. We are nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ. We even have the witness of the Vicar of Christ, which continues to call out the challenge to holiness 21 centuries after God first transformed the world by stepping into His creation.
"Don't be frightened of crying."Here we hear an immediate echo of the recurring theme from the sonata that was the pontificate of Saint John Paul the Great, "Be not afraid," which was itself an echoing, by Christ's Vicar, of God's own words, "Jesus spoke unto them, saying: Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid." (Matt 14:27), which recalls the words God spoke through Isaiah to His chosen ones seven centuries before, "fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God." (Is 41:10). We need fear not the looks or thoughts of a cruel and prideful world, "fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul...", but only to fear God whose justice is always perfect, "...but rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell" (Matt 10:28). Which brings us right back to the dies irae.
In some very real sense, then, we can say, building on the words of our Holy Father and of the Scriptures we looked at, that we can cry with our brethren in this "vale of tears" or we can cry for eternity with damned in hell.
"If we don't learn how to cry, we can't be good Christians. This is challenge. Don't be frightened of crying."Profound words from His Holiness.