New book celebrates gifts of Holy Cross

by Michael O. Garvey

Holy Cross book

Lent is the 40-day liturgical season during which Christians fast, pray and give alms in preparation for the celebration of their Lord’s resurrection at Easter. Sundays are excluded from the season, as each is itself a celebration of resurrection and thus a “little Easter.” This year the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, falls on Feb. 25.

At first glance, Lent is a season inextricable from suffering, death, sadness and failure. People deliberately go hungry, encounter their own and others’ poverty, confront, lament and struggle with their meanspiritedness, and all the while contemplate the image of a tortured man breathing his last on an ugly rack.

It is, of course, a paradoxical season for all Christians because of who that man is and why and for whom he has died, and what his death has irrevocably done to death itself. Because of its concentration on the cross of Christ, it is a season of hope.

Such hope is acutely appreciated and eloquently celebrated in the constitutions of Notre Dame’s founding religious order, the Congregation of Holy Cross, which exult that “there is no failure the Lord’s love cannot reverse, no humiliation he cannot exchange for blessing, no anger he cannot dissolve, no routine he cannot transfigure. All is swallowed up in the victory of his Cross.”

In celebration of the victory, “The Gift of the Cross: Lenten Reflections in the Holy Cross Tradition, edited by Rev. Andrew Gawrych, C.S.C., associate pastor of St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Phoenix, recently has been published by Ave Maria Press.

A collection of daily Lenten meditations by members of the Holy Cross community, each based on the scriptural readings of the day’s Mass, the book includes reflections by Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C, and president emeritus, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., as well as numerous other Holy Cross priests and men and women religious involved in a wide variety of ministries.

Recurring throughout the meditations is the conviction expressed by Rev. Thomas K. Zurcher, C.S.C., director of formation for Holy Cross in Mexico, that “our transformation into Christ is never finished. There is always more to come. That is why the Church gives us another Lent. It is not that our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving themselves transform us, but that they open our hearts and minds anew to the grace of conversion.”

Father Gawrych was graduated from Notre Dame in 2002, earned a master of divinity degree from the University in 2007 and was ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross the following year.

Contact: Cathy Odell at 574-287-2831 or