Carry the Cross: Persevere in Christ
Justin Haggerty | The Daily Knight
As we approach the end of Eastertide, we can contemplate on the various ways that the Crucifixion and Resurrection teach us sinners to persevere in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are all sinners and can only find strength in Christ, as the 'Petition for Grace' correctly articulates, "O my God, Thou knowest my weakness and failings, and that without Thy help I can accomplish nothing for the good of souls, my own or others'." (The Prayer Book, 1954)
St. Thomas à Kempis, in The Imitation of Christ, writes in persona Christi:
"If thou dost not fix thy heart on Me with a sincere will of suffering all things for My sake thou canst not support the heat of this warfare, nor attain to the victory of the saints."
Humans, because of our fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, are week and feeble creatures. It is only in Christ that we may be strengthen and receive the graces to fight temptation; for our Lord commanded us to pick up our crosses and follow Him. (Matthew 16:24)
It is in the manner that Jesus Christ carried the Cross to His Crucifixion, that we must carry our crosses through the pilgrimage of this world until we reach our Calvary. We must first embrace our cross, as the Lord embraced His in Gethsemane:
"My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done." (Matthew 26:42)
Christ embraced the Divine plan totally, refusing to entertain His accusers and assaulters to lesson His unjust punishment. When asked by Pilate if He was the king of the Jews, the Lord replied with "Thou sayest it." (Luke 23:3). Like our Lord, In our spiritual warfare, we should not cut corners around our amendments and employ a halfcocked resolve in our battle against sin.
Embrace your cross in Christ and He will shower the necessary graces to be triumphant over your iniquities:
"Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
You are not alone, for the Lord is with you. Even under failure, humbly confess your sins, be penitent, and pray for the increased resolve to amend your life. Our Lord fell under the weight of trillions of sins, only to pick up the Cross and to continue forward.
All sinners will fall again, even after unprecedented resistance to temptation. The Lord's presence will be known and He will retrograde to try your soul and measure its commitment to give itself entirely to His Divine Will. St. Thomas à Kempis explains:
"I never found anyone so religious and devout as not to have sometimes a subtraction of grace, or feel a diminution of fervour. No saint was ever so highly rapt and illuminated as not to be tempted sooner or later. For he is not worthy of the high contemplation of God who has not, for God's sake, been exercised with some tribulation. For temptation going before is usually a sign of ensuing consolation. For heavenly comfort is promised to such as have been proven by temptation. "To him that overcometh," saith Our Lord, "I will give to eat of the tree of life." (Apoc. 2:7). Now divine consolation is given that a man may be better able to support adversities. And temptation follows that he may not be proud of it. The devil never sleeps, neither is the flesh yet dead: therefore thou must not cease to prepare thyself for battle, for on the right hand, and on the left, are enemies that never rest." (Imitation of Christ)
Thanks be to God, it is through our Lord that we will be accompanied by angels and saints on the pilgrimage to our Calvary. After Christ's first fall on the Way of the Cross, His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, rushed through the violent mob to come to His aid. As our loving Mother, the Mediatrix of All Graces, she will rush to succor us, who give ourselves to her beloved Son.
Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, will command the angels and saints to intercede on our behalf. It is fitting that after Mary's consolation of Christ, on the Way of the Cross, that His saints came to His assistance.
St. Veronica, risking condemnation and assault by the Roman soldiers, rushed to Christ's side to wipe the precious Blood from His Face, after falling a second time under the immense weight of the Cross. St. Simon the Cyrene, although forced by the barbarians, helped our Lord carry the Cross as He became too weak to complete the journey to Cavalry. And, we must not forget Sts. John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene, who accompanied the Blessed Virgin Mary to the foot of the Cross.
May we be so blessed to be accompanied by His saints at the time of our Calvary and held by the Blessed Mother as we are taken down from our cross. Most of us, because of the various degrees that we merit sacrifice and grace, will not have such holy comfort. Nevertheless, God, through His example on Cavalry, illustrates how Our Lady and the Saints will come to our aid; when we fall; when we grow sorrowful; when our bodily strength leaves us; when the blood and sweat must be wiped from our brow; when the cross becomes too heavy to hold; and, at the dying moment of our last breath.
"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. For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it." (Matthew 16:24-15)
By losing our life for His sake, we will find it in our resurrection on the last day.
In Christ Crucified and the Most Victorious Heart of Jesus.