Saturday, December 1, 2012

Meditation on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: What It Means to Carry Our Cross

Today, December 1, is the First Saturday of the Month. The First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was first mentioned by Our Lady of Fatima on July 13, 1917. After showing the three children a vision of hell she said, "You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace... I shall come to ask for... the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays..." The First Saturday devotion is as follows:
It consists in going to Confession, receiving Communion, reciting five decades of the Rosary and meditating for a quarter of an hour on the mysteries of the Rosary on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. The Confession may be made during the eight days preceding or following the first Saturday of each month, provided that Holy Communion be received in the state of grace. Should one forget to form the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it may be formed at the next Confession, occasion to go to confession being taken at the first opportunity.
We are seeing the persecution of Christians around the globe today.  There is a story in recent days out of Syria of a Catholic priest, Father Fadi Haddad, who had gone out to negotiate the release of one of his parishioners.  His lifeless body was found several days later with his eyes gouged out.  There has been active persecution of Christians in Syria, as well as in LebanonEgypt, Iraq, and a whole host of countries in the Middle East.  We have heard of the terrible Church bombings and killings of Christians in Africa.

Now, of course, we have the beginning of active persecution of Christians, and specifically Catholics, here in the United States.  And this persecution is more than the HHS Mandate which forces Catholics to violate their religious beliefs.  We are also talking about the active war on God in the public marketplace, which we see in full force now that the Christmas season has begun as, across the nation, nativity scenes which were a part of communities for generations are being forcibly removed.  Christmas trees are now referred to as "holiday" trees.


These situations are going to worsen as Christianity is rejected by the world's elite. The re-election of Barack Obama as President has ensured that persecution of Christians, and the Catholic Church in particular, will become more acute in the United States as Christian beliefs are dismissed by the general society as intolerant and even hateful.  

All of this amounts to being handed a very heavy Cross which we must bear, just as our Lord was handed His Cross to carry to Calvary where He was crucified.   And that leads us to the Fourth of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary:  Christ Carries His Cross.  


Why was it so important that Our Lord carry His Cross?  Why should He have to suffer such a terrible death and even carry the instrument upon which He so tortuously died?  I found a beautiful meditation on this from how-to-pray-the-rosary-everyday.com, and one particularly profound statement from this meditation:
In Carrying the cross, Jesus shows how embracing suffering is the only way to peace. . . . Jesus carrying the cross demonstrates the need to embrace suffering and carry your own cross as the only way to peace and serenity.
This statement seems, on its face, to be totally contradictory.  How can carrying our Cross - which stands for that which causes us great pain and suffering - be the "only way to peace and serenity"?  In our western culture especially we have been taught that we should avoid pain at all costs.  We have medications to take care of every pain possible.  We are told that we should relax and enjoy life as much as we can.  "You deserve a break today."  One big problem with this philosophy is that it goes completely against the command of our Lord:


I'm certainly not saying that it is wrong to alleviate pain in our life by taking painkillers once in a while.  But if we make our whole life about running away from hardship and pain, we may be running away from our salvation.

When our Lord was given His Cross to carry to Calvary, this instrument upon which He was nailed and died, He actually embraced and kissed the Cross, because this was the means by which He would save mankind from death and destruction.  If our Lord had run away from His Cross, He would have been running away from the very purpose for which He was born.  He would have gained temporary reprieve from His great suffering, but the end result would be the loss of all of mankind.  Our Lord actually did ask that this heavy price be lifted from Him, but He ended his prayer to the Father with, "Not my will, but yours be done."

If we run away from the Cross which our Lord gives us to carry, we will be running away from our own personal salvation and possibly cause the loss of salvation for many others.  Our Cross is our own personal road to Heaven, custom made by Our Lord just for us.  This personally tailored Cross is the only sure way to Heaven and eternity with the Holy Trinity.  All other roads lead to damnation.  If we decide that we don't like the Cross we have been given by Christ and try to make our own, if instead of praying that the Father's Will be done, as Christ did, and we instead choose our own way, then we are no longer on the road to salvation.  Unless we repent of our willfulness, we will pay the price with the loss of salvation.

We look at great athletes and know that the only way they achieved their success was by denying themselves and pushing their bodies beyond what they thought they could endure.  We look at great musicians, writers and artists, and we know that they achieved greatness only by giving everything they had to their craft.   No one has ever achieved success by giving in to their own wants and desires.  As the old saying goes, "No pain, no gain."  Our Lord told us that we must deny ourselves and take up the Cross He gives to us.  Just as He did, we must carry our cross, and that cross that will lead to peace and happiness beyond our imagination.

Right now Christianity as a whole has been given a very heavy cross to bear:  persecution and tribulation at the hands of our fellow man.  We can't run away from this.  We must face up to it and all of its implications.  Many Christians are literally paying the price with their lives, and in doing so, they are giving great witness to the world and glory to God.  Many others will be led to salvation because these faithful Christians did not run away from their cross.  We must pray for the grace and the strength to do the same.  Our vision and understanding is extremely limited.  As we are told in Proverbs, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."  (Proverbs 14:12).  We must learn to trust the One who gives us every breath we breathe, the one who gave His Life for us on the Cross of Salvation.  It may seem like we are surrounded by darkness and despair, but Our Lord is always right alongside carrying the Cross with us.


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2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this website faithful to Christ.

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    1. Thank you for the highest compliment you could give. My goal is always to stay faithful to Jesus Christ.

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