Embracing the Cross

Sometimes there is a lot on our plate. Sometimes it is just too much what we have to bear. It is then that we realize what Jesus meant when he said everybody has to carry his cross. During my sabbatical time a couple years ago, I had the privilege to visit Glendalough, a 6th century monastery village in Ireland. Nestled in beautiful landscape are ruins of monastery houses and chapels and also a tall cross about twelve feet high. I was told if one was able to wrap one’s arms around the cross while making a wish, the wish would become true. I tried this, along with many others, but to be honest, I forgot the wish I had and I forgot if it later became true. Still it was a nice ritual.

Later somebody showed me the picture taken from the event and suddenly I realized what I actually did: I embraced the cross! This is the meaning of the ritual—if we embrace our cross, which always seems to be big – too big –, if we manage to fully take it on and accept it, our wish will be fulfilled. It means we will be okay. What will happen will be good for us. We will be ourselves instead of running away from ourselves, avoiding our cross. The cross is heavier if we don’t accept it. Instead, the suffering, if voluntarily accepted like Christ did, is a way to redemption. Seen from this perspective, it becomes again true what Jesus said: My yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Mt 11:30). It is difficult to accept our cross; it requires some stretching on our part, but we will be able to do it.

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“My yoke is easy.” (Mt 11:30)

9 thoughts on “Embracing the Cross

  1. Fr. ; always good to get your messages. I must admit this one while profound might be too deep for my limited spiritual grasp to take in. Ha ! I’m staying open & on the path & in need of prayers from you & others. Thanks ! Kind Regards ; steve mitchel

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  2. Hi Mauritius! Thanks for the lovely reflection! I was at Glendalough in Nov. and have a photo by this same cross. I did not know the tradition of “embracing” this cross but I loved Glendalough for so many reasons. I am sure I will go back one day and then I will also wrap my arms around this cross and remember this reflection again. Having this image in my mind will be a reminder to always embrace the cross, to me my true self and stay the course.

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  3. Thank you, Fr. Mauritius. You’re making a point of the utmost spiritual importance, hard to grasp and of great simplicity at the same time – there is salvation in the cross, there is grace in suffering.

    In my mind, one of the reasons why the Christian faith is such an powerful compass for the journey of life is that there are a number of paradoxes inherent to it. And I’m not trying to be fastidious in saying so.

    The Lord God, creator of heaven and earth, comes to man by taking the form of a defenseless baby born in poverty. Christ is humiliated and defeated by human standards, but exalted and triumphant by divine standards. The cross is a means of the most brutal torture, but served as the tool of redemption in God’s plan.

    These articles of faith are as paradoxical as life itself, which we so often can’t make sense of. But there is always a truth hidden in between these seemingly irreconcilable opposites, and that truth is always the same: God’s infinite love encompasses everything. It envelopes all contradictions within its oneness, the oneness of His love, a love within which all opposites are contained. Everything, even the seemingly meaningless suffering of an innocent man on the cross, betrayed by one of his closest friends, is redeemed, is redemption itself when touched by the love of God.

    That is always the teaching (doxa) that lies in between (para), perceptible to the eyes of the true believer.

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