Tuesday, July 31, 2007

For Whom We Carry our Cross

Fernanda experiences constant nausea lately in her preganancy. Her state has afforded us the opportunity to reflect on the concept of carrying our crosses. I have thought about this subject in light of Scripture and would like to share some of my thoughts about this here.

Sometimes when resolving to carry our crosses, we can get caught up in the mortification of the whole process, so much so that the mortification itself becomes the central focus of what it means to carry our cross. In Matthew 16:24-28 (and parallels) Christ assures that he is the motivation and end of our self-giving. As his words lay out the process, we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. Christ is the end of the means of taking up our daily cross. With this in mind, we imitate and grow closer to Christ in faithfully enduring life's hardships. Christ also points out in the gospel that he should serve as our motivation, too: he says, "Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Mt 16:25).

Since self denial, carrying our crosses, and 'losing' our lives are not easy, Christ offers himself as our motivation and final end for these tasks. His example should inspire us to undergo these tasks with confidence, sustained by the grace and strength he provides for us to carry them out.

On this note, I would mention the concept of offering the faithful bearing of our crosses as a prayer for others, as Paul wrote that he rejoiced in his sufferings for the sake of the Church, for in his sufferings he made up for what was "lacking" in Christ's sufferings, namely, the need yet for the grace of Christ's sufferings to be applied to the Church (Col 1:24). Our Lady of Fatima taught the three children to whom she appeared this prayer, to be said when offering up one's crosses: "I offer this up to you, Lord Jesus, for love of you, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation of offenses against the Immaculate Heart of Mary." The three children also habitually offered up their sacrifices for souls in purgatory.

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