A month ago, I participated in the annual retreat for women organized by Build the Faith. At the end of the retreat, I received a cross and a prayer: “The Cross in My Pocket.” The cross is a reminder that I am Christian, no matter where I am, and that Jesus, my Savior, had to suffer for my eternal salvation. Finding the cross in my pocket reminds me to be thankful for the blessings I receive every day and also to be better in everything I do and say.
Experiencing the Cross in our life is a gift from God, although sometimes we do not understand or appreciate it. Whatever Cross we have in our life, it is not ours, it is Jesus’ and we carry it for Him. The Cross means suffering – there is no other way. In the end, though, the Cross is victory over death, even though it gives us uncertainty as we carry it.
There are many things that disturb and scare me today, especially the uncertainty of what will happen tomorrow and when the scourge of this pandemic will end. I feel like I no longer have patience…I just want everything to return to normal. Will we go back to normal?
For many today, climbing towards the Cross will mean worries about having children at home without being able to meet their friends or go to school; for others it’s the threat of catching a disease that kills or losing a job or a business built with effort throughout life. I often wonder, What does God want from me? What does He want to purify in me through this situation? I ask God to help me see beyond my weakness and to help me and all of humanity in this moment of Cross. I know that Jesus does not promise me solutions or that conflicts will end. What He does offer to me is to rest on His heart. In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus says: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me….For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” If we carry His burden, with meekness and humility of heart, we will find rest. How nice when we feel Jesus’ hug and we can move on with inner peace!
Suffering is then, not so illogical and ridiculous. To follow Jesus more closely we have to climb towards His Cross. When our Lord visits me with a Cross, I go back to the words of Cardinal Pironio which say:
Let’s not be afraid. Let’s not ask for the Cross, but let’s not reject it either. Let us ask the Lord to make us savor the Cross, and to give us the ability to share the Cross with others. When we help others carry the Cross, we unfailingly receive the consolation of God. The Cross of Jesus is the Cross of redemption and fruitfulness. When the Lord sends us a Cross it is to make us fruitful for the Church and the world! Life is a blank page on which the Lord is drawing the Cross. If the Cross is not planted deeply and silently within our hearts, and if we do not share the suffering of our brothers and sisters, our life will not be fruitful.
Let’s not be afraid of suffering. Let us go to Galilee where we will find the Crucified Risen One! In my moments of Cross I have learned to expose my fragility before the love of the Lord, to receive His embrace and experience my own resurrection and newfound joy. The fruit of the Cross is always to be able to give myself to others as Eucharist.
I cannot finish this blog without sharing with you what I pray to Our Lady in my moments of Cross and resurrection:
Come into our heart when it is suffering and silent,
And when it is full of joy.
Teach us that both, at the feast and on the Cross,
We know how to bring your transforming presence to those around us.
Our Lady, may you always be there,
And may we learn to be where the Lord asks us. Amen.
Paula Gomez Victorica was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was a contemplative nun of the Order of Saint Benedict for 20 years. Since 2001, she has lived in Natick, Massachusetts.
Paula is a Certified Spiritual Director. She currently teaches Biblical Spirituality in asynchronous courses online at Boston College. She is the Coordinator of the Hispanic Community at Saint Ignatius Parish, Chestnut Hill, MA. She is also a Eucharistic Minister and collaborates in the pastoral and enrichment commissions in two parishes of the Metrowest.