Updated: Jul 25, 2022
“I have been crucified with Christ;
yet I live, no longer I,
but Christ lives in me…”
In the last mystery, we discussed that the daily “cross” could represent the effort to put the Scriptures into practice…in this mystery, similarly, many of the meditations we have in the community focus on the effort to “die” to oneself and remain “nailed” to the cross of obedience to God’s will (manifested especially through the Scriptures).
In this sense, it can be very easy to falter in our calling to remain “crucified with Christ” – if someone does me wrong, and I wrong him in return, I come down from the cross. If I find myself in a tight spot and tell a lie, I come down from the cross. If I gossip about someone else, I come down from the cross. For every one of the ways we “come down,” however, Christ has left us a remedy to get back up: the sacrament of Confession, which allows us to climb up again onto the cross of the Gospel.
Because on the other side of the cross…is the resurrection. Lent isn’t aimed at Good Friday, one of our brothers said recently in a homily; Lent is aimed at Easter. Without the Resurrection, none of our sacrifices, none of our difficult obedience, makes sense.
Our founder uses the example of a train: if we want to get to paradise, we have to follow the train-tracks of the Gospel laid down by Christ, aboard the “train” of the Cross. Our fallen humanity often objects to the restrictions which God’s law imposes on it – and yet, ironically, whenever we “jump the tracks” in pursuit of a worldly sense of freedom, we only find ourselves bogged down and broken.
The more closely we cling to the cross, the more closely we strive to follow the train-tracks of Christ crucified, the more peace and joy we will find in our lives and the more quickly we will be on our way to that life which is life indeed (cf. 1Tim 6:19).
“The passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, in: Off. of Read., 28 January)
Lenten Challenge, Week 5: make an examination of conscience (perhaps in light of Christ’s attitude on the cross – the forgiveness, the concern for others, the confidence in the Father, the preeminent focus on the salvation of souls, the detachment, quite literally, from things of earth – or in light of 1Cor 13:4ff), asking the Holy Spirit to bring to light the ways that you have “come down” from the cross of God’s will for you (which, as St. Paul tells us, is that you become a saint! – cf. 1Thess 4:3). Go to confession before Easter.
Image: from “The Crucifixion,” Bartolomé Esteban Murillo