Once, a person sent me this beautiful poem which spoke a lot to me. Its name was Hang It On The Cross and it was written by Lisa O. Engelhardt.
If you have a secret sorrow,
a burden or a loss,
an aching need for healing…
Hang It On The Cross.
If worry steals your sleep
and makes you turn and toss,
if your heart is feeling heavy…
Hang It On The Cross.
Every obstacle to faith
or doubt you come across,
every prayer unanswered…
Hang It On The Cross.
For Christ has borne our brokenness
and dearly paid the cost
To turn our trials to triumph…
Hanging On The Cross.
This heartfelt poem reminded me of what the Saints taught us about the Cross.
Saint Rose of Lima sees the Cross as the only ladder to heaven: Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven. Then, St Faustina sees the Cross as the secure place wherein she can rest her aching heart in times of trouble. She writes in her Diary entry 906: In difficult moments, I will fix my gaze upon the silent Heart of Jesus stretched on the Cross, and from the exploding flames of His merciful Heart, will flow down upon me power and strength to keep fighting. For others the Cross is the school of love. St Maximilian Kolbe says: The cross is the school of love.
There was even the idea that Mount Calvary is the mount of lovers and melting pot between life and death, always propelled by the power of love. St Francis de Sales said: Mount Calvary is the mount of lovers. All love that does not take its origin from the Savior’s passion is foolish and perilous. Unhappy is love without the Savior’s death. Love and death are so mingled in the Savior’s passion that we cannot have one in our hearts without the other. Upon Calvary, we cannot have life without love, or love without the Redeemer’s death. The same saint also reminds us that the Cross is the guide of our lives. Do everything for God, uniting yourself to him in word and deed. Walk very simply with the Cross of the Lord and be at peace with yourself.
For St Augustine the Cross is the throne from which Christ shows us how much he loves us thanks to his most dolorous passion he underwent for us. As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs. We see his blood as he dies. We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection. He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were, in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you. His whole body is displayed for your redemption. Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind: as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you, so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul. The Cross is the best school for patience. St Thomas Aquinas tells us: If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Great patience occurs in two ways: either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because when he suffered he did not threaten; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth. St John Mary Vianney goes ever further as to tell us that we are created on the shape of the cross. Everything is a reminder of the Cross. We ourselves are made in the shape of a cross.
If that is the case then the Cross is really a precious gift given to us by God to contemplate it. St Theodore the Studite exclaims: How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return. The Cross’ preciousness is that it is capable of uniting us with God. Hence, St Paul of the Cross says: The more deeply the cross penetrates, the better; the more deprived of consolation that your suffering is, the purer it will be; the more creatures oppose us, the more closely shall we be united to God.
If the Cross unites us so closely with God then it is right and just to adore it. St Josemaria Escriva encourages us: Let us adore the Cross. It is the sign of the Christian, and the sign of Christian victories. Cross and Blood: what must that wood have looked like after the death of our Lord! The Cross was soaked in the Redeemer’s Blood; and so when you see a Cross, think of the Blood of Christ, poured out for you, and don’t deny him what he is asking you for. When we opened our first house, I had a cross put there without the Crucified Christ, as a shout, a cry, a loving act of atonement to our God, an invitation to each of us not to despise the sufferings we may meet in our lives.
In the Cross there is a share of its victory for everyone. Its merits go to all those who approach it with faith. Pope St Leo the Great teaches: No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. The Cross is our way to heaven. That is why St Thomas More wisely admonishes us: We cannot go to heaven in featherbeds. As St Augustine would say: God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering. Perhaps, the greatest consolation we can get from the Cross is that Christ underwent this road up to his resurrection and glorification. St Teresa of Avila reminds us of this very important point when she says: Let us look to the cross and be filled with peace, knowing that Christ has walked this road and walks it now with us and with all our brothers and sisters.
While carrying our cross with love and faith may we make our own what St Paul wrote in his Letter to the Galatians where he encourages us to find our glory in Christ’s Cross: But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Gal 6:14).
How immense is the value of the Cross, the instrument of our salvation! Let us hang every difficulty, temptation, trial, discouragement and so forth on the Cross of Our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.