Saturday, February 4, 2012

Meditation on the Carrying of the Cross

Today is the First Saturday of the Month.  Our Lady of Fatima requested that we observe First Saturdays 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.
I have decided this month to meditate on the fourth Sorrowful Mystery:  Jesus Carries His Cross.  I love the meditation from St. Francis from the Stations of the Cross:
When our divine Savior beheld the cross, He most willingly stretched out His bleeding arms, lovingly embraced it, and tenderly kissed it, and placing it on His bruised shoulders, He, although almost exhausted, joyfully carried it.
And the prayer is:

O my Jesus, I cannot be Thy friend and follower, if I refuse to carry the cross. O dearly beloved cross! I embrace thee, I kiss thee, I joyfully accept thee from the hands of my God. Far be it from me to glory in anything, save in the cross of my Lord and Redeemer. By it the world shall be crucified to me and I to the world, that I may be Thine forever.

The Cross is an ugly object of execution consisting of two rough wooden logs nailed to each other, one horizontal and the other vertical.  It caused the extreme torture and long, excruciatingly painful death of those crucified on it.  Yet, our Lord reached out and embraced and even kissed this instrument of torture because it was the instrument through which salvation came to the world.  Christ commands us to follow his lead:  "Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."  (Matthew 16:24). 

The cross that Jesus carried was the salvation of the world, and we as Catholics display it in our homes, our Churches, wear it around our neck, and trace it across our bodies when we pray.  The priest makes the sign of the cross when he blesses us.  To carry our cross is to take whatever suffering is offered us and joyfully accept it because it is the road to our own personal salvation. 

Jesus was actually too physically weak to carry his cross, and because the Romans did not want him to die until they could nail him to that cross, they forced Simon the Cyrenian to help our Lord carry his cross.  I find it ironic that those who hated our Lord are the ones who helped to make it possible for Jesus to die on that Cross which would save the world.  So often those who are our enemies are actually helping us on the road to salvation because without realizing it, by persecuting us they are giving us more strength to carry our cross.  And of course, Our Lord, along with his Blessed Mother, is always walking with us lifting our burden and filling us with strength.  We are never alone. 

Life consists in carrying a cross of one kind or another.  It is our choice to either take the cross of this world which will lead to death, or the blessed cross of our Lord, which he so joyfully and willingly accepted, and which will lead to our salvation and life eternal.

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