3 Women + 3 Crosses = A little perspective

February 3, 2010

 

When my own cross seems a little heavy I find it’s not just good to look up toward Jesus on the cross but also out toward others and the crosses they bear. It seems to bring a little perspective on the weight and length of my own cross.

Today I’m thinking of and praying for three women.

A wife and mother of two who lost her husband in December.

–God the Father, be a father to her fatherless children, God the Son, be her spouse and God the Holy Spirit, comfort her broken heart.

A young mother who lost her prematurely born son in January.

–Blessed Mother, you know what it is to lose your own son “too soon.” Please pray for your daughter.*

A mother of five little ones who is suffering the end stages of cancer and hoping for a miracle.

–Father, somehow bring peace in the midst of what seems so tragic. Comfort this mother as she comforts her own children. 

 

*Note: If you have a problem understanding why I’d ask Mary, the mother of God incarnate, to pray for this woman, you may want to read this post

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Carry on

February 1, 2010

 

We are called to carry our cross.

It’s up to God to determine its weight and length.

(Unknown)

 Father, today I pray…

…for the one who thinks their cross is too big to bear

–remind them of your constant presence and help in their time of need. 

…for the one who is falling under the weight of their cross

–strengthen their faith and provide a friend to help them carry their cross today.

…for the one who resents their cross

–soften their heart as they recall how you carried your cross just for them.

 


Grace in Disguise

February 6, 2009

 

You desire to rid your life of the cross you carry and fill this emptiness you feel.  But what if this cross, this trial with its emptiness, are graces God has given you to help see your need of him? Is it possible that the very things you desire to get rid of are his gifts to you? Gifts that when opened and explored reveal the depth of his mercy and love because they make you long for and seek the one true lover of your soul.


A Different Approach

January 13, 2009

Here’s a different approach to making new year resolutions…

Ask our Lord to show you the cross he wants you to carry this year. Carry it lovingly, faithfully, and generously.

                                  -Saint Bernadette

 

“…anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

                                                      Matthew 10:38-39


“How are ya Ralph?”

March 13, 2008

The other day I was in the sacristy at church looking over the readings and preparing to serve as the lector and I ran into Ralph, the altar server. I glanced up from my reading and in our society’s ritualistic manner of greeting said,

“How are ya Ralph?”

Expecting the typical ritualistic response, “Fine and how are you Amy?” I was surprised when, with a grin and a nod, he simply said,

“I’m ok, just carrying my cross today.”

My cross that week was feeling especially heavy and so I smiled, nodded, and said,

“Yep, me too Ralph, me too.”

Ralph’s simple response and our exchange meant more to me than the other possible options. In those few seconds Ralph gave me an honest response. It wasn’t a fake, let me hide who I am and pretend life is a bowl of cherries response. But neither was it a litany of complaints or a “woe is me” response. It was both real and yet hopeful.

In that simple statement Ralph was honest about the fact that his life right now isn’t necessarily easy. And yet his words were full of hope because they were so Christ focused. Ralph understands that Jesus calls us to carry our cross and when life presents those crosses we shouldn’t be surprised. He also knows we shouldn’t be completely overwhelmed because there’s grace. Hence the smile and the nod.

In that brief exchange I felt like I saw a piece of Ralph’s heart which gave me the freedom to in turn share mine. No need to share all the details or have a long drawn out intimate conversation. No, the 17 words we shared were more than enough for some genuine Christian fellowship. And more than enough for Ralph to share a bit of hope with me.

I’m not alone on my journey. You’re not alone on this journey. We’re on this journey together. We each carry our cross but we carry it with the hope of something better in the future. And we carry it by grace. Sometimes that grace comes in unexpected ways. On that day, Ralph was a bit of God’s grace sent to lighten the load of my cross.  Thank you Ralph.


Things that make you go Hmmmm…

July 30, 2007

 

Every now and then I hear something and it just makes me stop and think.

 A few months ago I heard this priest talking about the divorce rate and a wedding tradition in a small town in Croatia. Seems that in the small town of Kerzegovina (population 13,000) the divorce rate is very low (some claim there has never been a divorce). I haven’t checked the stats on this so I can’t confirm nor deny the accuracy of this claim.

Supposing this fact is true, one wonders what’s going on in this town. How have they kept divorce from infiltrating their community and destroying the hearts and hopes of men, women and children? There are some who believe the marriage covenant in this community is strengthened by a perspective on marriage expressed in a unique wedding tradition commonly practiced in this Catholic community.

In the small town of Herzegovina, when a Catholic couple is married, they are told:  

You have found your cross. It is a cross to be loved, to be carried, a cross not to be thrown away, but to be cherished. 

 In Herzegovina, the cross represents the greatest love. During the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom place their hands together on a crucifix. Then they kiss, not each other, but the cross. The crucifix they kiss at their wedding then becomes a focal point of their home. It’s a reminder that if one should abandon the other, they cannot do so without abandoning Jesus Crucified.

 Ok, I have to admit, it’s not all that “romantic.” But then anyone who has been married for a while knows that contrary to our cultural traditions and stereotypes, marriage isn’t only about the romance and “feel good” stuff. No, marriage is about so much more.  

So, this tradition made me think. Instead of allowing the world to teach our children that marriage is about finding someone who makes you happy, who “completes you,” and who adores you, what if we teach them that the primary purpose in marriage (like any vocation in life) is loving and serving God by loving and serving those around you (in this case, your family). What if we focused on marriage as a means of becoming more like Jesus and committing to helping your spouse to love Jesus and others too instead of seeing it as a means of “self-fulfillment.

Instead of thinking of marriage as a “right” (i.e. my right to be happy and to not be alone, my right to fulfill my physical and emotional desires, my right to have children, my right to be loved), what if more people saw marriage as a true covenant; a covenant in which one surrenders their “rights” just like Jesus did when he came to fulfill the Father’s covenant with us. A covenant fulfilled when Jesus came to carry the cross for us.  

Again, I know this is not so “romantic” in the traditional sense of the word. But then given the statistics of marriage and divorce among Christians perhaps it’s time to redefine “true romance.” Maybe the self-serving romantic fairy tale of marriage we’ve been handed by our culture is another one of the enemy’s lies we’ve believed.

What if the real image of marriage we should hold onto is that of each spouse carrying a cross for the love of their life, like Jesus did for us?

 Hmmmm….I can’t help but wonder if our brothers and sisters over there in Herzegovina might not be onto something. 

 
 
 

*Note: A few disclaimers and qualifiers…

  1. Marriage, divorce and re-marriage are touchy subjects. Please don’t read into this any judgmental overtones. These are the musings of an a “idealist” who often has high expectations of herself and the world around her; one of my strengths and my weaknesses. That being said, this post is not a diatribe against those who find themself divorced. It’s really about the hope of what Christian marriages can become.
  2. I should also make the disclaimer that in no way am I suggesting that all of marriage is about “carrying a cross” and there is no place for “romance,” emotional and physical fulfillment, joy and contentment. I’m just suggesting the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of “self-love” in marriage instead of an other-centered, self-giving love that Jesus calls us to show one another.