Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is obvious that many people in our world are suffering. People are suffering from illness, grieving the death of a loved one, loss of faith, financial hardships, loss of a job to name a few of the many sufferings that people face on a daily basis. Yet Our Lord invites us to take up our cross (or crosses of some) and to follow Him. Why? Is there any value in carrying our cross of suffering?
St. Francis de Sales has these beautiful words about your cross:
"The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that 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 loving arms and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not 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 glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from Heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God."
Thomas à Kempis, the author “The Imitation of Christ”, offers this reflection:
"To many the saying, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me, seems hard. How much harder, however, will the words on the Day of Judgment be: Depart from Me, you accursed ones, into the everlasting fire. Those who follow the cross willingly now, will not fear the last judgment. When the Lord comes to judge, the Sign of the Cross will be in the heavens; then will those servants of the cross, who in their lifetime made themselves one with the Crucified, draw near with great trust to Christ, the Judge.
"Why are you afraid, then, to take up the cross when through it you can win an eternal kingdom? In the cross is salvation; in it is life; in it is protection from your enemies; in it is strength of mind; in it is joy of spirit; in it is the highest virtue; in the cross is perfect holiness. "Take up your cross and follow Jesus, and you will merit eternal life."
Our Lord has given each one of His children the perfect cross, “a special greeting from God to you” as a way of experiencing His all-merciful love. May this Year of Mercy open our eyes and hearts to the many powerful ways God shares His perfect love and divine mercy for His beloved children.
Fr. Don Kline