Misery, mystery and the cross PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 29 June 2015 11:58



If we only have a linear way of thinking, these conditions of misery and mystery can be the two opposite extremes of the range of possibilities we can have in our life here on earth. Misery can be the  lowest status we can have, and mystery, while unsettling, can be the acme of human experience.

Of course, we try to live a more normal life, endeavoring to stay away from these two extremes. We can think the ideal is that.

But we know that our life is not simply linear and flat, or just two or three-dimensional. It is complex and multi-dimensional, giving these two conditions the chance of coinciding, instead of conflicting. This happens especially when we bring in matters of faith, of the spiritual and supernatural into the equation.

In the Christian faith, these two extremes can converge in the phenomenon of the Holy Cross that signifies both the worst of human misery and the best of mystical life. It is both defeat and victory, darkness and light, death and life everlasting.

We need to highlight this truth of faith these days, since it is often forgotten and ignored, if not ridiculed and rejected. And if it happens that some acceptance is made, it usually comes with a lot of distortion and misunderstanding.

The modern mind, often priding itself as well-informed, interdisciplinary, sophisticated, etc., actually fails many times to appreciate this truth. And that´s because in spite of the information overdrive and data glut, faith is not well understood, much less,lived.

We need to bring this good news to the mainstream of society, because the truth of the Holy Cross is not meant only for a few, for those who happen to be religious in temperament. This truth is for all. It´s supposed to have a universal audience.

Obviously, it is a truth that needs not only to be taught and preached. It has to be prayed for, with sacrifices put in, since it can only enter people´s minds and hearts when grace touches them and leads them to be humble enough to believe.

Pride kills faith and blinds us to the richness of deep supernatural truths and mysteries. It tends to intoxicate us with reason alone, if not with feelings only, often keeping us only the realm of what is pragmatic, popular, convenient.

We need to actively look for the Cross, find it everyday, love and embrace it, because first of all that is what Christ told us: ¨If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.¨ (Mt 16,24)

Besides, the cross is something we cannot avoid. It is the consequence of our sins and mistakes. But Christ converted it into an instrument of our salvation. With him on the cross, the sting of sin and death is removed.

A beautiful prayer expresses this truth well: ¨You decreed that man should be saved through the wood of the cross. The tree of man´s defeat became his tree of victory; where life was lost, there life has been restored through Christ our Lord...¨ (Preface, Triumph of the Cross)

We have to understand that we can only progress in our spiritual life, individually and collectively, through the Cross. We can only do effective battle to the enemies of our soul—our laziness, pride, vanity, greed, lust, etc.—through the cross.

It´s this Cross of Christ that has brought about the Church, the doctrine of our faith, the sacraments, the holy lives of saints whose testimonies can move and melt the hardest of hearts.

This Cross transcends the best of human reasoning and experiences. This was the testimony, for example, of that great intellectual saint, Edith Stein, who facing a great trial once said:

¨This was my first encounter with the Cross, and with the divine virtue which it infuses in those who carry it. Thus I saw for  the first time and palpably before me, in its victory over the sting of death, the Church born out of the passion of the Redeemer. It wasthe moment when my disbelief collapsed and Christ radiated, Christ in the mystery of the Cross.¨

May we learn to look for the Cross always, embracing it tightly, convinced that´s where our true joy and liberation are found. May we learn to find the Cross in our daily affairs, big and small. May we deeply realize that our life is always a blend of joy and sacrifice, smile and suffering, optimism and difficulty, filial abandon in the hands of God and determined struggle.