Your cross will feel light

Friends in Christ,
Today, as we begin Lent, the Lord calls us to take up our cross. The cross as we know, refers to the hardships of life, the weariness in our daily duties, the contradictions that come, words spoken against us, illness, pain – pain can be physical, but sometimes the worst, is psychological or spiritual pain. Some encounter the cross even living in their own home.  

Today Jesus calls us not to hate the cross, but to embrace it.  St. Josemaria says:   Christ carries the cross for you, you can carry it for him;  don’t drag the Cross…Carry it squarely on your shoulder. Love the Cross, and then it will be…   a Cross, without a Cross! Now this is not easy, to love our cross. But if we try, we sometimes get glimpses of it, we can experience a joy in our suffering – sometimes.

And this is a great mystery then:  that if we accept and embrace the cross, it becomes – lighter. St. Teresa of Avila said, ‘Those who embrace the cross do not feel it –  if we resolve to suffer, the pain ceases.’[i]  St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi said: ‘Those who offer up their sufferings to God soon find their pain to be sweet.’  

Just yesterday, I was at a hospital and spoke to a man who had been lying on his bed for months – many problems.  He was wrestling inside his heart with a question: ‘Father, I know that God punishes us for our sins, he said; and I have certainly sinned in my life, but I don’t understand why all this – why he does it to me, that there have been so many things going wrong.’  

I said to him, ‘it is true of course that sometimes God allows us to suffer as a consequence of our sins, but we must not think this is what suffering is all about. ‘You know, there was a very good man, who never did anything wrong – he was perfectly innocent, Jesus. And yet he endured the most horrible torture and death.  But great good came out of this suffering.  He was able to conquer death and make it possible for us to go to heaven.  So he shows that suffering is very valuable.   

So here’s the thing: When I look at this bed, I see you, I see Jesus lying here.  Well, you are supposed to be another Christ, this is what we are supposed to be.  So by you offering your suffering, you are helping Jesus save the world. Participating in the Redemption. Because of what you offer here, others will reach heaven.   
I have never seen anyone ‘get it’ as quickly as this man did. He said, ‘This has changed everything!’  

We take up our cross in Lent, we make sacrifices, and if we embrace our cross, it will become very sweet, and great good will come out of it.


[i] Glories of Mary p. 584.

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