Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 6, 2010
Christ walks with us as we shoulder our cross
Your cross is never heavier than the cross that Christ endured
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
My wife, LaRee (pronounced like Marie only beginning with an L) and I recently spoke to Edmonton's Catholic Renewal Services group. They are affiliated with the charismatic renewal movement. (For more information, see their website at www.ccredmonton.info). Those people really are on fire for the Lord. LaRee and I loved them.
We sang songs of praise to God, we prayed, had breakfast together, laughed and fellowshipped as the presence of the Holy Spirit filled the room.
When it came time for us to speak, LaRee and I shared our life story that has included abortion, post-abortion grief, acquiring of serious degenerative disability of multiple sclerosis and fears (sometimes downright terror) that came with it. It was not an easy presentation because it required us to be vulnerable and brutally honest but we were among Christian friends.
We spoke about a journey that began with sin and broken hearts, anger with life and God, and then gradually moved toward acceptance, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation. It was only then, with God's tender leading, that we began to receive a renewed understanding about life and love (both human and divine). We spoke about how we slowly began to realize there was a personal application to our Lord's exhortation to take up our cross daily and follow him (Luke 9.23).
WE ALL BEAR A CROSS
This is not unique to us. Everyone must take up a cross of one sort or another. Sometimes it is obvious to other people and sometimes not.
In his classic Christian book The Imitation of Christ, the 15th-century priest Thomas à Kempis wrote about the universal calling of taking up one's cross: "No man's heart can experience what Christ endured in his passion except the man who suffered as he did. . . .
"The cross is, therefore, always in readiness for you and everywhere awaits you. Wherever you choose to run you will not escape it because you always take yourself with you and you will always find yourself."
Taking up your cross will surely turn you toward your interior self because taking up your cross involves the essential work of Christian growth. The daily struggle and suffering encountered under the weight of your cross is where personal purification occurs.
SUBMIT TO GOD'S WILL
Bearing the cross requires you to chastise your will and body and bring them into subjection of God. It is not easy but it is necessary. It is a critically important decision you must make every day.
Some people will refuse the cross - but they cannot escape it. As Thomas à Kempis reminds us, the cross is always before us and waiting because we cannot escape ourselves.
The sick or disabled must face and accept their affliction as a divine tool for spiritual growth. The lonely must face and accept their loneliness; their cross may change it to sweet solitude. The addict must face his addiction demons. Depending on the extent of his addiction, he may even have to decide every hour to take up his cross.
Bearing the cross may be different for each person, but each person must face it, take it up and follow Christ.
What is your cross? Don't be surprised that it requires suffering (emotional, spiritual or physical). Suffering can have a refining effect as with gold in fire. St. Paul said in his letter to the Romans that he considered "the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us."
WHAT IS UNSEEN
In 2 Corinthians, he reflected, "For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal."
For those who allow the cross to conform them to Christ crucified, they will find it is the way that leads to the kingdom of God.
A consolation of the cross you take up is that Christ will travel with you under its weight. Your individual cross - no matter how onerous or burdensome it may be - is never heavier than the cross Christ endured.
Remember that you are not alone. Christ is there just as he has been with Christians throughout history who took up their crosses.
If we unite our lesser sufferings with Christ's Passion, crucifixion and resurrection, we will discover a strange yet wonderful internal transformation begin to make us fit for heaven.
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