Taking Up One’s Cross

by | Mar 24, 2024 | 0 comments

     My family and I were on a family vacation for several days in Fort Lauderdale, FL in March 2023. Anytime we are on vacation and one of the vacation days falls on a Sunday, I visit MassTimes.org to find the closest Catholic church to where we are staying. I then attend a Mass at this church. I attended an early Sunday Mass at St Gregory the Great. After the blessing was given to the congregation once Mass had completed, I said a few prayers and then left the church. While I was walking down a set of the church steps, I discovered a very beautiful area in the back of the church where anyone could pray, enjoy fellowship, or take in all of the beautiful surroundings with each of the five senses. There were many benches, statues of saints, Stations of the Cross, and gardens containing very beautiful plants and flowers. When I first glanced at this area, I immediately thought it was a little piece of heaven. Seeing what a wonderful area this would be to sit quietly and pray, I took the opportunity to do just that.

     There was much on my mind when I sat down at the first of many benches situated all throughout this amazing holy place. I closed my eyes. I prayed and contemplated many things for a few minutes. One thing I thought about was that I felt as though much of the world was on my shoulders, mainly because my mom was not doing well in terms of her health. When I opened my eyes and looked around, I noticed that I was sitting in front of Station II of the Stations of the Cross. Station II is “Jesus Takes His Cross.”

     I stood up, walked for a little bit, and then sat down on a different bench. I did the same thing at the second bench as I did at the first bench. I thought about many things pertaining to my family and my faith, and I prayed. This time I felt that even more weight was taken from my shoulders. After having my eyes closed again for a short period of time, I opened my eyes and noticed that I was in front of Station VI of the Stations of the Cross. Station VI is “Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross.”

     This was an epiphany for me. Right away I felt the Holy Spirit stirring within me. At that particular moment, I realized that Station II reminded me that there are many crosses that I will carry in life. I need to embrace these crosses just like Jesus embraced His cross. I also realized that Station VI reminded me that everyone else in life has their own crosses to carry and I need to be the person, just like Simon did for Jesus, who helps these people with the cross(es) they are carrying. What are these crosses? These crosses can include recovering from surgery, battling an addiction, trying to lose weight, being fired from a job, lack of self-esteem, a poor relationship with a family member, being affected by a disease, homelessness, lacking finances to provide for others, anger management issues, lack of self-control, addiction to pornography, or any hardship that makes it difficult to take care of oneself or others.

            When I attended a Malvern retreat at the Malvern Retreat House in November 2017, Reverend Simeon Gallagher, the retreat director who spoke to us during several of the conferences, said the following about taking up one’s cross: “God is writing a LOVE STORY for each one of us. How do we read this? Acknowledge that we are weak, acknowledge that we cannot do things alone, and the cross we need to bear is the one inside of us. Jesus said, ‘Come follow me and take up my cross.’ What fills us with shame … this is our cross. Cooperate with this cross and it will be our pathway to salvation.”

     The cross that Jesus was given to carry is the one that He carried on the day He was crucified. He was nailed to this cross, He hung on this cross for several hours, and He breathed His last breadth on this cross. Jesus bore this cross because he loved us so much. He took on the sins of me, you, and all people since the beginning of time. Because of this unselfish, courageous, selfless, brave, and amazing act of love, each one of us has the opportunity to spend life with Jesus in heaven for all of eternity. You and I need to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and we need to ask God to forgive us of our sins. Knowing and understanding the meaning of the cross that Jesus carried can help each one of us with the cross or crosses that we bear in life each day.