Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Cross reserved for you on the day of the Passion

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

It is an extraordinary thing to consider that Christ had you in mind on the day of His Passion.  When He consented to receive help carrying his burden by Simon the Cyrenean, He revealed to us His will that each of us ought to help Him bear His Cross.  Our Lord says to us: “Accept this share of My sufferings which, in My divine foreknowledge, on the day of My Passion, I reserved for you.” Daughters, consciously unite yourselves more fully to Christ at those times when you are most weary of life, when you find yourself sinking beneath its burden.  It is at those moments that the "virtue and the unction of the Cross" will be communicated to you.

When Jesus was ascending the road to Calvary, bowed down under His heavy Cross, He fell beneath the weight. We see Him humbled, weak, prostrate upon the ground. He Whom Scripture calls “the strength of God,” Virtus Dei, is incapable of carrying His Cross. It is a homage that His humanity renders to the power of God. If He so willed, Jesus could, despite His weakness, bear His Cross as far as Calvary: but, at this moment, the divinity wills, for our salvation, that the humanity should feel its weakness, in order that it should merit for us the strength to bear our sufferings.

God gives us, too, a cross to carry, and each one thinks that his own is the heaviest. We ought to accept the one given to us without reasoning, without saying: “God might have changed such or such a circumstance in my life.” Our Lord tells us: “If any man will come after Me, let him . . . take up his cross and follow Me.”

In this generous acceptation of our cross, we shall find union with Christ . For in bearing our cross, we truly bear our share in that of Jesus. Consider what is related in the Gospel. The Jews, seeing how faint and weary their Victim was becoming, and fearing that He would not arrive as far as Calvary, stop Simon the Cyrenean upon the way, and force him to come to the Saviour’s aid . As I have just said, Christ could, had He so willed, have derived the necessary strength from His divinity , but He consented to be helped. He wishes to show us thereby that each of us ought to help Him to bear His Cross. Our Lord says to us: “Accept this share of My sufferings which, in My divine foreknowledge, on the day of My Passion, I reserved for you.”

How shall we refuse to accept, from Christ’s hands, this sorrow, this trial, this contradiction, this adversity? To drink some drops from the chalice which He Himself offers to us and from which He drank the first? Let us then say: “Yes, Divine Master, I accept this share, with all my heart, because it comes from You.” Let us take it, as Christ took His Cross, out of love for Him and in union with Him. We shall sometimes feel ready to sink beneath the burden. St. Paul confesses that certain hours of his life were so full of weariness and disappointment that he was “weary even of life”: Ut taederet nos etiam vivere. But, like the great Apostle, let us look upon Him Who loved us so much as to deliver Himself up for us; let us unite ourselves to Christ with yet more love at those hours when the body is tortured, or the soul is crushed, or the mind is in darkness, or the deep action of the Spirit in His purifying operations is making itself felt. Then the virtue and unction of His Cross will be communicated to us, and we shall find peace in it as well as strength, and that innermost joy which knows how to smile in the midst of suffering: Superabundo gaudio in omni tribulatione nostra. 

These are the graces which our Lord has merited for us. Indeed when He went up Mount Calvary, helped by the Cyrenean, Christ Jesus, the God-Man, thought of all those who, in the course of the centuries, would help Him to carry His Cross in accepting their own; He merited for them, at that moment, inexhaustible graces of strength, resignation, and self-surrender which would cause them to say like Him: “Father, not My will, but Thine be done.”

Marmion, Blessed Columba