Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Take Up Your Cross

Just a quick thank you first to God.  Thank you my Lord and God. I want to love you with all that you have given me:  body, mind, soul, and strength, not just in this moment, or just in front of your Eucharistic presence . . . or just in a moment of reflection on the magnitude of your sacrifice.  I want to love you with constancy like you love me.

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."  Matthew 16:24

I just read what was a sad post, as posts that speak honestly of someone suffering are sad.  This post had a spiritual maturity to it that I recognize, but cannot claim.  Most of you may have already read it, but if not, when you do I think you'll notice something to the ending.  Link is at the close of this.

It reminds me of the transformation we get to observe in St. Peter during the Gospels.  Thanks to the Father, Peter gets that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, through whom we have salvation, but still, in his human love and mind, he wants the Lord to avoid the grievous suffering and rejection that Jesus keeps telling his friends is coming.

Even in the middle of the Transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah are conversing with Jesus about his upcoming Passion, Peter is just a little slow in processing the meaning of this, and with no idea what else to say suggests raising some tents.  When Jesus says this is the hour, pray not to be put to the test, poor Peter escapes to sleep.  I really love Peter, and these moments when I see myself in how he acts, make me love him more.  He does eventually very much get the lesson of the cross, the lesson I am still learning.

It will clearly take the Holy Spirit's transformation of my mind, soul, and strength--will, to embrace the crosses in mine and others lives according to the will of God, for me to encourage, love, and pray for those who are doing what Jesus asks, taking up their cross and following him.

Some saints, like St. Therese and St. Faustina, came to rejoice in their suffering, seeing the time and sacrifices they had on earth as so short, and even imagining that they would miss the ability to offer suffering in love in heaven.

I keep going through my life praying for miracles.  I want and pray for infertile people to have babies unassisted.  I want and pray for crippled elderly and children alike to be made well.  I don't go over and put my hands on them, and I have a mother who used to pray over me that way when I had a headache, but I pray silently, fervently.

When my friend and priest had cancer, I prayed for healing -- immediate healing.  I was in the confessional with him, and as I know by faith that Jesus is standing right there behind his Priest, I asked Jesus in my mind, even as I was multi-tasking listening to the advice of the priest, to please heal his servant right now of all the cancerous tumors.  I wanted his oncologist, surgeon, whomever, to find a miracle healing the next time they checked.  I also prayed for him and his family to have strength, faith, consolation in the midst of their cross, but I was hoping for a miracle.

When a co-worker lost a newborn daughter, I prayed for resurrection.  I even asked my church friends to pray this too.  It wasn't the only intention. I also prayed for the consolation and the faith of the parents, but I prayed that Jesus, would have compassion, like he had on the Widow in Nain, and would just tell that little baby girl to wake up.

I'm a bit like Peter there, I guess.  I do pray for God's will, but I really want in my too human heart and mind, for the crosses to be lifted, for the suffering to cease.

Besides the dear woman's post link that is coming up -- soon, here are a few related quotes that are helpful. I am still going to keep praying for miracles on the down-low, while still also praying for the faith, consolation, peace, and strength of Christ for the ones carrying the crosses.

"Here, I see you all at the end of the journey which you have yet to complete, living and sacrificing yourselves for the glory of God.  Here, I see you already in glory which awaits you, at the end of your painful sufferings.
You also should think of yourselves as being in the light of my Immaculate Heart, and live serene and content.
Live in joy, because your names have already been written in heaven."  (
 To The Priests Our Lady's Beloved Sonsp. 273 December 31, 1979, paragraph j-k)

Here is quote from Francis DeSales re: the cross in our lives:

The Everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost Heart.  This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with His loving arms and weighed with His own hands that it not be one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last look at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms from the all-merciful love of God.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  (1 John 4:18b) 

From St. John of the Cross (bold emphasis is mine, italic emphasis is St. John's)

  Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them.
  We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.
  For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labours, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.
  All these are lesser things, disposing the soul for the lofty sanctuary of the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ: this is the highest wisdom attainable in this life.
Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.
  Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, but to be steadfast and rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and the depth – to know what is beyond knowledge, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God.
  The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.

There is a good book on suffering if you are looking for one:  John Paul II and the Meaning of Suffering: Lessons from a Spiritual Master.


  1. Collen, thank you for your fervent and beautiful prayer in the first paragraph, and thank you also for the complete surprise I found when reading your post -- that you had linked to mine.

    I too believe in and pray for miracles. I've had some myself. But when they don't come, well I guess our faith just has to stretch a bit.

    I love your passion for God! It's contagious : ) God bless you.


  2. Patricia, speaking of contagious, I read your post and then my heart was filled with love and thanksgiving for God. Thank you for your witness, your taking the time to read this long post, and taking time to leave a comment! These quotes and a dozen or so scripture passages were very meaningful to me and to the priest friend as he was enduring his chemotherapy treatments. Your post very much moved me, and love your example of going to the Lord with your tears, laying your head upon is breast, and receiving consolation from Him, but not removal of your cross. It is sad, beautiful, very moving, and with the eyes of faith, I know it will be worth it.
    This same priest said in a homily shortly after he was diagnosed, and I am not sure who he was quoting, but that when we do get to heaven some day there will be people we know and people we don't know who received graces and might not be there, or be there so soon if it were not for our prayers, sacrifices, and witness.