Friday, September 7, 2007

On Carrying One’s Cross

God gives to the Christian a cross to purify him and to bring him to Himself; therefore, that soul ought to be thankful.

None of us is worthy to carry any cross so when God grants us one, for our purification, we ought to be doubly grateful.

Some crosses cannot, without sin, be cast aside or crawled out from under.

If (to mix metaphors) you kick against the goads, you only make the suffering a thousand times worse. If you accept your cross freely and gladly for Love’s sake, the suffering is transformed into something wonderful, something healing, something precious.

To accept a cross to carry is not the same as resignation. It does not mean we should not strive to correct a bad situation. It does mean that until that correction occurs, we meet the circumstances with a certain inner tranquility, knowing that God, the only Lover of mankind, is the One in control here.

The inner tranquility is not the same as numbness. You feel the pain in full. But you also feel a joy that far outshines the hurt. The Buddha gives you a spiritual (and emotional) anesthetic; Christ gives you a way through the suffering, which Way is Himself. He lends His strength, companionship, courage.

When you think your cross is more than you can bear, it isn’t. It fits you exactly; it stretches your capacity but doesn’t break you. Do not wish to trade it for another. God knows which cross is best for you at any given time.

“The Way of the Cross Leads Home.” If God should give you your own, personal, customized way home, grab it! Embrace it! Fall on your knees with gratitude, weep for joy. Take up that cross with all due haste and head for home! And when you get there, you will see that you weren’t carrying that cross after all; it was carrying you. So treasure the instrument of your salvation.

“My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” No matter how things may appear, it is actually easier to live the Christian life (synonymous with carrying your cross) than not to. It is easier to have Christ than to feel abandoned, easier to know where you stand that to be lost and confused, easier to suffer for His sake than for your own greed, ambition and sins, easier to be His “slave" (which is to be free!) than the slave of sin. Even if we do see wicked people seeming to thrive, having it much easier than those they oppress, it is still easier to bear the pain of this world and the blessings of the next than the other way around.

I know a man who lies awake nights worrying about his job, his relationships, whose approval he has, whose he does not have. Now a real quandary has arisen for him. There are about six different people whose you-know-what he feels obliged to kiss, but to kiss any one of them will bring down the wrath of each of the other five. Having long since concluded that God had abandoned him, and having reciprocated, this man is totally bewildered, without compass or map, truly baffled. The voice of his fears is drowning out the voice of his conscience (if, indeed, his conscience is still talking) and it is pathetic to behold.

Easier to have direction, even if you are heading toward Golgotha! This man is crucified daily, tormented by his own lost soul, yet needlessly, pointlessly, with a kind of suffering that is devoid of hope, devoid of consolation, and ends in death instead of greater life. That is infinitely harder than carrying his cross would have been.


DebD said...

I needed to hear these words today. Thank you.

BTW, did you happen to catch Fr. Michael Regan's sermon? IT dovetails nicely with what you have written here.

The Abandoned Mind

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Thanks, Deb, for referring me to that excellent blog! I did read it, upon your recommendation.