As you know, I promised going on a little journey with Mary and some of my favorite mysteries of the Rosary. This week I want to take us into my favorite mystery of the sorrowful mysteries. I certainly do not want to overlook the importance of any of the mysteries, but there is certainly one that speaks most clearly to me and allows me to enter in more deeply.
“The Carrying of the Cross” is the mystery that speaks so forcefully to me while I am praying with the sorrowful mysteries. The grace of this mystery is patience. A grace that I am in desperate need of in my life. When I go to confession, impatience is always at the top of my list. When I ponder Jesus carrying his cross my heart truly aches. Our Lord walked an exceptionally long distance, on rocky roads, up hills, falling three times, with a battered body, carrying a cross that is said to have weighed nearly 100 pounds. I cannot even imagine the pain that our Lord felt, but he patiently and willingly carried that cross for you and me.
The suffering that Jesus endured as he carried that cross had to of been great. He had been scourged almost to death, a crown of rose thrones was placed on his head and the thrones were stabbing into his head. He was then given this very heavy cross and told to carry it up the hill to the place of his crucifixion. I can assure you that if I were in the place of Jesus, I would not have gracefully accepted this sentence. I probably would have made a comment like, “If you are going to put me to death, you can carry me up that hill and you can take the cross on your own.” Thankfully, Jesus did not have my attitude and he accepted the will that His Father had for Him.
When I begin praying this mystery of the rosary, my mind turns to the crosses in my life that I have been asked to carry. There are many times in life, that I try to wish away these crosses out of my life. My crosses are not the crosses of any other person in the world and my crosses are chosen exactly for me…because God knows what I can and cannot handle. I focus on the cross that is being asked of me in my life at that moment. We all know that the suffering we are asked to endure changes…sometimes on a weekly or even daily basis.
During this mystery I focus on three things. First, I think of the cross that I am being asked to carry on that particular day and ponder if I have truly accepted that cross with patience and grace. There are times that I do a decent job of accepting my cross and there are times where I really need work. I never do it nearly as gracefully as Jesus and there is always room for me to improve. When praying with this mystery I ask Jesus to reveal to me what I could be doing better in accepting my particular cross. Where can I be more patient? Where can I be more graceful?
Second, I ponder redemptive suffering and I pray that the cross that I am carrying will help someone who needs God’s love. Redemptive suffering is the Catholic belief that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can remit the just punishment for one's sins or for the sins of another, or for the other physical or spiritual needs of oneself or another. How beautiful is that? If we truly understood the beauty of redemptive suffering we would run towards our cross, not away from it. I ask God to help me run towards the cross and offer my suffering up for the good of our world.
Finally, I spend time reminding myself that God does not ask me to carry this cross on my own. I ask Mary to help me carry my cross and I ask Jesus for the strength that I need endure the suffering I have been asked to carry.
Crosses come in many different shapes and sizes, but I have learned to never wish my crosses away. Jesus has picked this cross, at this moment, for me to carry in my life in order that I may glorify Him. Friends, in the midst of our sufferings and our crosses, may we grow in patience and depend on our Holy Mother and the Trinity to help us walk the journey our cross is taking us on.