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[Image: dali-crucifixion2.jpg]


The greatest manifestation of love. 

Jesus called his disciples, and leaving everything behind, they followed him. They accompanied the Master on the roads of Palestine, to villages and towns. They shared joys and fatigue and hunger. At times they risked their reputations and indeed their very lives for Jesus. At first they accompanied him externally, but little by little an interior disposition to follow him took root: their souls were transformed. This deeper disposition requires more than mere detachment, and even more than abandoning house and home, family and material possessions. In the Gospel our Lord says, “He who wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and I follow me”.

Denying oneself means refusing to be the center of one’s own attention. The true disciple must be centered on Christ, to whom must be directed all thoughts and cares, so that our entire day truly becomes an offering to God. To carry the cross means that one is willing to die.  Whoever picks up the cross and carries it squarely accepts his destiny and knows that his life will end on that cross. Carrying the cross means that a firm resolution has been made; it indicates that we are willing to follow him – if necessary unto death – that we wish to imitate him in everything without placing obstacles between us.

To follow Christ we should identify our will with his; He took up his cross without hesitation. He carried it to Calvary, where He offered himself to God the Father in an offering of infinite merit and love.

We should consider frequently that his Passion and Death on the Cross are the greatest expression of his love for the Father and for us. Certainly, the smallest act of love He performed, his most insignificant work – even as a child – had infinite merit, sufficient to obtain for all men over all of time the grace of salvation; to obtain for them eternal life and all the grace they would need to obtain it. In spite of this He was still willing to suffer the horrors of his Passion and Death on the Cross to show us how much He loves the Father, and how much He loves each of us. Some­times He expressed to his disciples the urgency that filled his soul: “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how dis­tressed I am until it is accomplished”. The Holy Spirit has written through Saint John: God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son.  Jesus freely gave up his life for us because He loved us, for greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus Christ cannot restrain his desire to give his life for our love. If we want to follow him, not just externally but deeply, identifying ourselves with him, how can we reject the Cross, the sacrifice so intimately related with love and self-giving? Being close to Christ will lead us to complete self-surrender, to true love, to the greatest joy. Forgetting ourselves, identifying ourselves with his holy will in all things, cleans, purifies, makes transparent and divinizes our soul. To have the Cross is to have joy: it is to have you, Lord!

The meaning and fruits of suffering. 

A holy soul once experienced difficult trials. One calamity after another befell her, and each succeeding disaster seemed worse than the one before. Finally, that soul turned affectionately to our Lord and asked, But Lord, what have I done to you? And in the depths of her  heart came the reply, You have loved me. She thought of Calvary and understood a little better how our Lord wanted to purify her and draw her close to the salvation of many who were lost, far from God. She was then filled with peace and joy.

In our lives we will encounter sorrows, as all men do. If you have difficulties, be assured that they are a proof of the fatherly love the Lord has for you.  These are good moments to look with love upon Christ on the Cross, to understand that from the Cross He is telling us: I love you more, from you I expect more.

Perhaps it is a painful illness that disrupts the plans we have made, or a misfortune affecting those whom we love most, or some kind of pro­fessional failure. Lord, what have I done to you?, we will ask. And He will respond in silence that He loves us; that He wants an unlimited acceptance of his divine will; that his logic is different from human reasoning. Then, when we accept and abandon ourselves, we come to understand – though perhaps later – what a great good are those difficulties. How thankful will we then be to our Lord!

Often, though, we will find the Cross in the ordinary and even trivial things that we encounter in the course of run-of-the-mill days: fatigue; lacking the time we would like to do things; having to renounce a pleasant plan that we had made; bearing with love the defects of persons with whom we live and work or, in connection with them, some small, unexpected humiliation; aridity in prayer.  Our Lord awaits us there as well. He asks that we accept  those contradictions – great or small – without sterile complaints, without bitterness or rebellion. He asks for our love taking up that which goes against us and offering it as a valuable jewel. Our small contradictions united with those of Christ on the Cross acquire an infinite value to make reparation for the many sins committed daily the world over, and for our sins as well.

Sorrows borne with and for love bear many other rich fruits: they serve as satisfaction for our sins; they purify our soul; they deepen and strengthen our character and per­sonality. They are the only way to acquire a certain special understanding and sympathy for our neighbor. In fact, they open us to Christ’s own interior life, and thus unite us more closely to him. Often, deep suffering sets its mark. on a decisive moment in our lives and leads us to a renewed fer­vor and hope, to a new way – fuller and deeper – of understanding our own existence. But pain and suffering should not mean sadness. When we carry our Cross together with Christ, our soul. is filled with peace and a deep joy amidst all its trials. The lives of the saints are full of joy, one which the world does not understand because the roots of such joy are sunk in God.

Seeking out mortifications.

If anyone will come after me … We want nothing in the world but to follow Christ closely. No other thing,­ not even our own lives, do we love more than this: iden­tifying ourselves with him; making the desires and senti­ments that He had on earth our own. We are close to him not only when things are going well, but also when we accept adversities with patience, happy to be able to accompany him on the way of the Cross, uniting our r sufferings with his.

If, however, we were only to await the trials and con­tradictions, the pain we cannot avoid, our love would lack generosity. We would be content with just getting by. We would have a reluctant disposition that might be described in these words: Mortification? Life has enough sorrows! I have-enough worries already!

However, interior life depends too much on mortification not to seek it out actively. Those mortifications which arise spontaneously are important and valuable, but should not serve as excuses to flee from gen­erous voluntary sacrifices, the sign of a true spirit of penance .. ‘I will freely offer you sacrifice; I will sing your name, 0 Yahweh, your name, because it is good’ {Ps 53:8}

The Church proposes that we consider the penitential aspect of our lives one day each week – on Fridays – by reflecting on the Passion of Christ. On this day, many Christians consider with greater care the sorrowful mys­teries of Christ’s life, or they accompany him on the Way of the Cross, or they read or meditate on his Passion. It is a good day to examine more carefully how we habitually bear contradictions and the generosity – fruit of love ­with which we seek out voluntary mortifications in little things; or how we struggle against our selfishness, laziness or the desire to be well thought of, to be the centre of attention. Other points for examination might include the small mortifications that make the lives of others more enjoyable; being cordial in our dealings with others; not giving into bad moods that perhaps will lead to brusque manners; smiling when we tend to be more serious; being punctual in our work or studies; eating a little less of what we like most or a little more of what we like least; not eat­ing between meals; keeping our desk, wardrobe or room neat and orderly; not giving in to curiosity; guarding our senses with refinement; not complaining about excessive heat or cold or heavy traffic…

As we finish today’s meditation on the words of Jesus, if anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny him­self, take up his cross and follow me, we request of him in the intimacy of our prayer, Grant me, Jesus, the Cross with no Simon of Cyrene to help me. No, that’s not right; I need your grace, I need your help here as in everything. You must be my Simon of Cyrene. With you, my God, no trial can daunt me … But what if my cross should consist of bore­dom or sadness? In that case I would say to you, Lord, with you I will gladly be sad. As long as I don’t lose you, no sorrow will be a sorrow at all.

Fr. Francis Fernandez (In Conversation with Christ)

I like this Daly picture
Here's a little from the office;

Chosroes of Persia, having, in the last days of the reign of the Emperor Phocas, overrun Egypt and Africa, in 614,  took Jerusalem, where he slaughtered thousands of Christians and carried off to Persia the Cross of the Lord, which Helen had put upon Mount Calvary. Heraclius, the successor of Phocas, moved by the thought of the hardships and horrid outrages of war, sought for peace, but Chosroes, drunken with conquest, would not allow of it even upon unfair terms. Heraclius therefore, being set in this uttermost strait, earnestly sought help from God by constant fasting and prayer, and through His good inspiration gathered an army, joined battle with the enemy, and prevailed against three of Chosroes his chief captains, and three armies.

Chosroes was broken by these defeats, and when in his flight, in 628,  he was about crossing the Tigris, he proclaimed his son Medarses partner in his kingdom. Chosroes' eldest son Siroes took this slight to heart, and formed a plot to murder his father and brother, which plot he brought to effect soon after they had come home. Then he got the kingdom from Heraclius upon certain terms, whereof the first was that he should give back the Cross of the Lord Christ. The Cross therefore was received back after that it had been fourteen years in the power of the Persians, and (in 629) Heraclius came to Jerusalem and bore it with solemn pomp unto the Mount whereunto the Saviour had borne it.

This event was marked by a famous miracle. Heraclius, who was adorned with gold and jewels, stayed perforce at the gateway which leadeth unto Mount Calvary, and the harder he strove to go forward, the harder he seemed to be held back, whereat both himself and all they that stood by were sore amazed. Then spake Zacharias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, saying See, O Emperor, that it be not that in carrying the Cross attired in the guise of a Conqueror thou showest too little of the poverty and lowliness of Jesus Christ. Then Heraclius cast away his princely raiment and took off his shoes from his feet, and in the garb of a countryman easily finished his journey, and set up the Cross once more in the same place upon Calvary whence the Persians had carried it away. That the Cross had been put by Heraclius in the same place wherein it had first been planted by the Saviour caused the yearly Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross to become the more famous thenceforward.

Here's a very good sermon from Audio Sancto on the return of the True Cross to Constantinople, and connecting it to Summorum Pontificum: