The Cross & Suffering

The Cross has its part in all close relationships with God in this present life of ours on earth.  The most wonderful, spiritual experiences, the most exhilarating contacts with God’s glory, the deepest experiences of spiritual peace and tranquility are not found except in contact with the Cross.  (March 7, 1971 Homily)

There were three crosses on Calvary, and every man finds himself on one of them.  We still bear the Cross, no matter how we try to avoid it or get rid of it.  The three crosses on Calvary were all the same and felt the same.  On one of them an unrepentant criminal rebelled against his cross, derided Christ, and died in hatred and despair.  On the second cross a repentant sinner, a thief, accepted the cross he could not avoid, admitted he deserved it, defended Christ as not deserving it, and was canonized by Our Lord before his death.  On the third cross, there died a Man of Sorrows who voluntarily chose to take up His Cross, who refused to use His ability to come down from it even when taunted by His enemies, and saved the world as He entered into His glory.  (March 7, 1971 Homily)

If we reject the Cross which we cannot avoid, we shall be lost.  We cannot follow Christ without taking up our Cross.  If we endure the Cross we shall be saved.  If we choose the Cross we shall save others.  (March 7, 1971 Homily)

A Cross we reject destroys us.  A Cross we accept sanctifies us.  A Cross we could avoid but choose sanctifies others too.  (March 7, 1971 Homily)

When we have learnt to love the Cross there is nothing in heaven or on earth that can destroy our peace and contentment.  The Cross which comes to a Christian is always a Crucifix.  It never comes without the Lord we love.  (March 7, 1971 Homily)

If you want to look at what the work of Our Lord was, the great work and essential one, it was not His work as Carpenter; it was not His work as Teacher or as Spiritual Healer of the people He met.  These were all part of His temporary work, but the real essential work He did was the obedient and self-emptying work of His Sacred Passion.  (March 7, 1971 Conference)

It is strange . . . how often we look at the Crucifix and how often we make the Sign of the Cross and yet do not accept our share in the work of Our Lord’s Passion.  We may be prepared to speak of the Royal Road of the Cross, but when it comes to us and we are on it, we are put out because it is not paved with gold.  I think one of our great difficulties is not so much in accepting the Cross in our lives as accepting that the things we find unsatisfactory or unpleasant are in fact the Cross.  (March 7, 1971 Conference)

It is our work to share in the Passion of Christ, each of us in the way and to the degree that complete obedience to the Father and detachment from the comforts and securities of this life entail.  (March 7, 1971 Conference)

Our whole life has been put under the Sign of the Cross, so that we are under an obligation to live every moment of it as far as we can in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  This commitment was made when we were baptized.  We renew it in our morning offering, and we renew it radically in every offering of Holy Mass and reception of Holy Communion.  No wonder Saint Paul sometimes speaks as if a Christian cannot sin.  It is so unthinkable.  (March 7, 1971 Conference)

It is very important for us to understand the mystery of suffering and the Cross, not in a way that gives an explanation to it, not in a way that takes away the puzzle we feel at so many unpleasant or unsatisfactory or difficult things that happen to us, but in the sense of accepting God’s revealed answer to the whole problem:  This is My beloved Son.  (March 7, 1971 Conference)

It is when we are facing or enduring or accepting the very things we find most unacceptable or most unendurable or most unsatisfactory in the order of things in our life that we are really doing the work of God on earth.  We are carrying on the essential work of Our Blessed Lord with whom we wish to live every moment, the work of His Sacred Passion.  (March 7, 1971 Conference)

From time to time there have arisen stigmatics in the Church, not only Saint Francis of Assisi but quite a number of other people who have borne in their bodies very painful wounds like those of Christ.  These are a very striking sign of sharing in the Passion of Our Lord.  I have never heard of a stigmatic complaining about his wounds, although they were often extremely, unbearably painful and crippling and prevented those who had them from doing all that they otherwise would have done.  But they did not complain.  One does not complain at receiving the extraordinary great privilege of sharing the wounds of Christ.

We are all stigmatics.  The things you or I complain about, the pains, the frustrations, the distress, all sufferings—these are the wounds of Christ.  And we live in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and are signed, and even sign ourselves, with the Sign of the Cross.  (March 7, 1971 Conference)

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