Some time ago, a kindhearted person handed me six wooden crosses. He explicitly told me: Kindly give them to the patients you minister to at the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre.
I gladly welcomed these six crosses, nicely packed in brown paper and accompanied by a touching prayer. These crosses speak on their own of God’s faithful love for his children, especially for those who are suffering from cancer. Yes, cancer patients greatly appreciate such gifts which show God’s closeness to them, especially during these difficult moments of their lives.
The Holding Cross requires that we hold it in the palm of our hand. This small cross is made of wood and its beam is deliberately made uneven so as to fit comfortably between your fingers. The cross is not ornamental or decorated to remind you of the harsh wood of the cross.
It is enough to simply hold the cross silently. This itself is prayer. Maybe we have no words anyway, and it is through our sense of touch that we are expressing our love for Christ and our need for Him.
Holding the cross can also be a way of praying for others, especially those who are suffering. It is useful to hold the cross when making an act of penance.
When we are ill, simply holding the cross may be the best way to pray. It does not matter that we do not have the energy for other kinds of prayer.
You could give a wooden cross to someone who is ill or dying as a way of sharing the love of Christ with them. Sometimes, however, it is useful and enriching to recite the prayer of the Holding Cross while holding onto it.
As I hang on to this cross, Lord, hang on to me.
I will face this pain. I will accept its full impact silently turning my gaze onto the Crucified Christ who is in this suffering with me. Even here I am held in the love of Jesus who is both Love in death and Love Risen.
As I hold this Cross, Lord, fill me with your strength and peace. Come Lord Jesus Christ, my Light, and illuminate my darkness. Come, my Life and revive me from death. Come, my Physician and heal my wounds. Come Flame of divine love and burn up the thorns of my pain, kindling my heart with the flame of your love. For You alone are my King and my Lord.
As I hold this cross, Lord, I remember the cost of Your great love for us.
In this Thy bitter Passion, Good Shepherd, think of me. With Thy most sweet compassion, unworthy though I may be, beneath Thy cross abiding forever would I rest, in Thy dear love confiding, and with Thy presence blest.
As I hold this cross, Lord, I rejoice in the knowledge that evil and sin do not have the last word and that Your love is indestructible.
Lord, however fearful I may be, I know that nothing can separate me from Your love, neither death nor life, angels nor principalities, things present, nor things to come, evil powers, heights, depths or anything else in all creation – nothing at all. AMEN.
Try to give a Holding Cross to all those who are suffering, particularly to patients in hospitals or those who are homebound. May the Cross remind them of Jesus’ words: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt 11:28-30).