Lenten Meditation: Sweet Cross of Jesus and My Cross

March 29, 2018

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The Gospels show us with great clarity how much our Divine Savior in His mercy pities our pains of body and soul.  We need only to recall the awesome miracles He performed in His omnipotence in order to mitigate these pains.

But let us never make the mistake of imagining that this combat against pain and sorrow was the greatest gift He dispensed to mankind.

For he who closes his eyes to the central fact of Our Lord’s life — that He is our Redeemer and desired to endure the cruelest sufferings in order to redeem us — would have misunderstood His mission.

Jesus in the House of Annas. Painting by José de Madrazo y Agudo.

Even at the very apex of His Passion, Our Lord could have put an end to all those pains instantly by a mere act of His Divine will.

From the very first moment of His Passion to the very last, He could have ordered His wounds to heal, His precious blood to stop pouring forth, and the effects of the blows on His Divine body to disappear without a scar.

Finally, He could have given Himself a brilliant and jubilant victory, abruptly halting the persecution that was dragging Him to death.

But He willed none of this. On the contrary, He willed to allow Himself to be led up the Via Dolorosa to the height of Golgotha: He willed to see His most holy Mother engulfed in the depths of sorrow.

And, finally, He willed to cry out those piercing words “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46), which will echo down through the ages until the consummation of the world.

In considering these realities, we come to understand a profound truth. By granting each of us the grace to be called to suffer a portion of His Passion with Him, He made clear the unequaled role of the Cross in the lives of men, in the history of the world, and in His glorification.

Let us not think that by inviting us to suffer the pains and sorrows of the present life, He thereby wished to dispense each of us from pronouncing our own “consummatum est” (“it is completed”) at the time of our death.

The Crucifixion by Bl. Fra Angelico in the Convento di San Marco, Florence. The giant fresco occupies the entire wall opposite to the entrance of the Chapter Room. The saints depicted are, from the left: Cosmas and Damian, Lawrence, Mark the Evangelist, John the Baptist, the Virgin and the pious women; to the right of the Cricifixion kneeling Dominic, Jerome, Francis, Bernard, John Gualberto and Peter the Martyr, standing Zanobi (or perhaps Ambrose), Augustin, Benedict, Romuald and Thomas of Aquino. Around the fresco, on the border, are the busts of the Prophets and Sibyls in ten hexagons; in the centre, above the Crucifixion the pelikan, symbol of the redemption. Below, in the lower frieze there are 17 medallions with portraits of the most illustrious members of the Dominican Order.If we do not understand the role of the Cross, if we do not love the Cross, if we do not live our own via crucis, we will not fulfill Providence’s design for us.

And when dying, we will not be able to make ours the sublime exclamation of Saint Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up to me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Any quality, however exalted, will avail nothing unless it is founded on love of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. With this love we can obtain all, even if we find heavy the holy burden of purity and other virtues, the unceasing attacks and mockeries of the enemies of the Faith, and the betrayals of false friends.

The great foundation, indeed the greatest foundation, of Christian civilization is that each and every person cultivates a generous love for the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May Mary help us to do this. Then we shall have reconquered for her Divine Son the reign of God that today flickers so faintly in the hearts of men.

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