Twenty years ago I visited Sienna for the first time. I was really moved by many of the paintings that depicted the life of St Catherine.
One of them was an image where Christ was offering to her two crowns: one of gold covered with jewels and the other of thorns. St. Catherine is choosing with both hands the one of thorns. She was freely choosing the one that will make her resemble more the life of her Spouse, of the Crucified Lord.
Two days ago, when I read the news of the passing of Fr Alvaro Corcuera, LC, this was the image that came vividly to my mind.
My personal experience with Fr Alvaro was limited to the time when he was the General Director of The Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. I participated in many meetings with him, had personal conversations, saw the way he worked, but above all the way he dealt with people. Every person was important, no matter how much work he had, how many problems he was dealing with. He valued every person in his or her own dignity and showed this in a very authentic way.
I also had meals with him, but the most beautiful experience I can recall was that one of praying with him, especially when he was celebrating the Eucharist. Of these experiences I had with him, I know he suffered a lot, mentally and physically.
As a priest, he certainly identified himself with Christ Crucified and he chose the crown of thorns. This crown not visible to many, but was deeply covering his heart. He carried it with sacrifice but joy. He was definitely sustained by God’s grace. And now, the image that keeps coming to my mind since he passed away is the one of him being crowned with glory.
By sharing in the Passion with Christ, he now shares in His Glory. Now he is not choosing a crown, but he is being offered a crown by God the Father. It is not the crown of thorns anymore, but the crown that His own Son has, the crown of glory to share in His Kingdom.
Two crowns: one just last for a little while, the other eternal, without end.