Examiner.com: On the carrying of one’s cross (in one’s pocket)

10 05 2009

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Almost a year ago now, I was given a small crucifix from a friend in Mexico. I had been searching for one to carry around with me as a reminder of Christ’s presence and the work which He has accomplished (and continues to accomplish) in my life and in the life of the world. It’s old, only about three inches long, the cross and corpus are made of the same metal, and it’s very light; it’s very convenient to carry my cross in my pocket.

This brings me to the question: “What does it mean to carry one’s cross?” Christ has told us in many ways that we must pick up our crosses daily in order to be in Him, in order to merit life in abundance in this world and in the world to come. But what does this mean in the practicalities of our day-to-day lives? What does this mean to the person who sits in the chair receiving chemotherapy? For the loved one who sits in the waiting room? For the doctors and nurses who administer these treatments? What does it mean for the person who stays at home and cleans up the dishes and takes care of the clothes? For the person who goes to work – day in and day out – carrying out what can become a monotonous routine?

It seems that the carrying of the cross, and (consequently, what makes the load of the cross “light”) is the vision of Christ throughout our lives – whether we are going through tough or “normal” times. For it is only in the vision of Christ, the vision of God, that we are able to take in the larger context of what it means to exist as a part of Christ’s body, as one of His children. In the vision of Christ, the God Who became man, we will become simultaneously aware of the larger body that exists with (and independent of) us, as well as take those events which we are facing in the light of eternity, rather than seeing only what is in front of us. For if we see things solely in the light of (or, rather, in the darkness of) ourselves without the illumination of Christ, then we will be all the more inclined to make them more important than they really are. The cross will be a heavy burden, unbearable even, when not taken up in Christ; boredom, depression, anger, anxiety: all of these terrible deprivations of human life can gain a strong grounding in our lives, eventually sucking the life (which comes from Christ) out of life.

“But,” you may ask, “what does the little pocket crucifix have to do with this?” The pocket crucifix (read: object or devotion which brings your vision to God) is a sacramental. It is a tangible reminder of eternity. It is something that I can see, touch, smell, etc.; it engages my humanity to look beyond mere appearance and think of (reflect on, be grateful for) what it signifies. It brings my mind in touch with the redemption of Christ and the blessings which flow therefrom: the words and actions of Christ, the lives of the saints, the freedom He has won, the virtue which He calls me to, the truth that I am His child. With each turn towards God, we will become gradually (surprisingly?) aware that God is, in reality, still looking at us. In fact, His gaze never ceased. His love is continuously pouring down on us; we must first see and receive in order to spread this same love, in order to carry this cross.

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