Ever since the fall of Adam we have been under the divine decrees of labor and death, and we have never been dispensed from prayer since the very beginning. If we were to describe what carrying one’s cross is, that would be its definition: to manfully pray, work, suffer and die in purity of heart willingly for God’s sake.
The Cross cannot be defeated, it can only be rejected. The Cross cannot be broken or destroyed, but it can be neglected. I have been pondering on the state of western civilization and the Church after the recent developments of the last few weeks. Many people would have you believe that the legalization of gay “marriage” is a game changer, that we have now passed into the era of persecution and that the days of living a comfortable life in the public square is over.
As the imitation of Christ says “JESUS has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross” (Book 2, Chapter 11). If we were living as holily and as uprightly as we ought to be, is now the moment when we shall first be persecuted? If we have been living as we ought to have been living, we should be at least somewhat practiced at enduring some persecution, even if only from bad Catholics and Christians when they object to the discipline of a good Christian life. Abstinence from bad movies, books, friends, and media do not win many friends, especially when these things are popular.
It is horrifying to witness how people have twisted and warped even the most basic Christian tenets to be accepting of perverse behavior, vilifying those who rightly condemn it. But if we believe what is contained in the Creeds of the Church, how can we be surprised that those who embrace heresy (whether of a protestant variety or a pseudo Catholic one) would not wholeheartedly embrace a new one, especially when it is so popular?. We must not forget that a person who even doubts a core teaching of the Church, sins against Faith, and sins against the faith lead to the loss of it, without which hope and charity cannot be present.
What of the vigilant, have they not for years already been fighting: defending the words of prophets and God the Father, upholding the veracity of the holy Scriptures, fighting protestant errors, condemning syncretism and resisting the fundamental option theory (the belief that if a person is basically good they will go to heaven)?
The cross was there a year ago, five years ago, and 60 years ago, its burden and weight on each one of us, measured out according to the wisdom of God. Its burden was not sweet yesterday and bitter today, nor was its yoke light yesterday and heavy today; rather, it was and is given out with the grace to manfully carry it.
The immensity of the task before us as Christians (to make all men know, love and serve God) combined with the realization of both our leadership and somewhat meager resources, can lead us to feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Has anyone else felt that pull or seen with their eyes the cooling of charity that seems to be running through various apostolates? Those who trust in their own wits, nuances, intellectual devices or techniques will be confounded no matter how Catholic they believe themselves to be, no matter how many books they have read or clerics they know.
Does anyone else long to see the dead raised in the name of Jesus Christ? I don’t mean in some figurative way, but a corpse coming back to life? I do. Does anyone else wish to witness sight being restored to the blind, or the dying healed of their infirmities? I do. I am convinced that the occurrence of such things, with prayers, would do a better job at turning around this society than all the slogans, strategies and other clever devices that we can come up with as men. Should we feel overwhelmed if God is on our side, and if he is on our side should we hesitate to ask for His manifest works? If you do not believe He is, have you already lost your faith?
Just a short while ago, in the 1800’s, many pious laymen and laywomen made regular use of the St. Benedict’s medal, and their simple faith in the Holy Cross and the intercession of St. Benedict made itself known in numerous great works (which you can hear about on Alleluia Audiobooks). Do we have such a faith? Do we work with the conviction that we have received our duties through the direct ordering of God? Do we suffer with patience, trusting that God is choosing and ordering our suffering for our own good?
It almost feels too simple: pray with belief, work with zeal, suffer with patience, die with a clean conscience and what we ask for with faith we will receive. This is what we must do, this is what we have always had to do. We don't need new slogans and options, we need to pick up our cross and carry it.