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For Love of the Cross


“May the Priest Saint Paul, whose only love was the Cross, obtain for us your grace, O Lord, so that, urged on more strongly by his example, we may embrace our own cross with courage”

The quote they kicks off today’s reflection, a prayer actually, was the Collect chosen for Daily Mass on this the day our Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Paul of the Cross. On the surface, this would seem to be a rather odd statement. Who among us loves the cross, even going so far as to declare it our only love? I would venture to say that most of us are inclined to loathe the cross, instead seeking to emulate the rich man in yesterday’s Gospel (Luke 12:13-21) who, as the benefactor of a bountiful harvest, was eager to store up treasure and in turn “rest, eat, drink and be merry” for the rest of his life. But as we go on to learn at the conclusion of this tale of greed and complacency gone awry, God’s ways are not our ways. No man knows the day nor the hour when he will be called from this life into the next. Crosses are by no means optional.

“The more deeply the cross penetrates, the better; the more deprived of consolation that your suffering is, the purer it will be,” Saint Paul of the Cross once said. “The more creatures oppose us, the more closely shall we be united to God. What an honor God confers on us when He calls us to travel the same road as His Divine Son!” This was a man who devoted his life to the memory of Christ's passion and death. He would go on to establish the Congregation of the Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion, better known as the “Passionists.” More on Saint Paul of the Cross in a moment.

In today’s 1st Reading (Ephesians 2:12-22), (the other) Saint Paul speaks of a newfound intimacy between God and man, an intimacy, he explains, that is borne out of the Blood of Christ. “For he is our peace,” Paul explains. “He made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one Body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.”

In Jesus, we see the perfection of all things through the Cross. His passion, death, and resurrection would unlock the Gates of Heaven, conquering sin and death while promising eternal life in the Kingdom that will never end. But only if we too take up our crosses. We are, after all, called to be followers of Christ, not merely admirers. To walk in his footsteps is the greatest act of love we can lavish upon our Savior.

“Be thankful for your precious trials, both interior, and exterior,” Saint Paul of the Cross would often say. “It is thus that the garden of Jesus is adorned with flowers, that is, with acts of virtue.” As countercultural or even downright counterintuitive as it may seem, we must all learn to love the Cross. For it is through the Cross ~ and only through the Cross ~ that we will achieve Heavenly Glory in the Kingdom of our Lord.

I leave you with a final quote from this great Saint, one in which he offers up some advice on how to embrace our crosses and walk side by side with Jesus on this journey home to the Father’s House. “Do not live any longer in yourself, but let Jesus Christ live in you in such a way that the virtue of this Divine Savior may be resplendent in all your actions, in order that all may see in you a true portrait of the Crucified and sense the sweetest fragrance of the holy virtues of the Lord, in interior and exterior modesty, in patience, in gentleness, suffering, charity, humility, and in all others that follow.”

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Saint Paul of the Cross, pray for us.

“Be thankful for your precious trials, both interior and exterior. It is thus that the garden of Jesus is adorned with flowers, that is, with acts of virtue.”



Patrick44 (author) on October 23, 2020:

Well thanks Diane. Fact is, I almost passed on today because I’m so far behind schedule (at least 5 or 6 drafts that need to be completed) but it was actually Fr Larry during his homily this morning who gave me the idea/inspiration for this Essay. I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass me by so I got to it while it was still fresh in my mind.

Diane Duquette on October 21, 2020:

Chuck, I really needed to hear this, ‘‘tis morning. Keep writing because you never know who’s life you are changing. Wonderful article

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