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Chapter 6



All that crucifies is good— 
do not look at what wood the crosses are made of,
as long as it is a ‘cross-wood.’
Great crosses present themselves rarely,
little crosses are given to us at every moment.
Make sure not to lose any of them.
—Blessed Edward Poppe



Pain and suffering are a part of life and certainly of death.  From war and terrorism, disease and starvation, injury and illness, to problems and pain of all kinds, suffering is everywhere and touches everyone in one form or another.  Whether it be mental, emotional, physical or spiritual suffering, the cross is the pattern of our lives.  If we unite our cross with the Crucified One—Jesus, the Son of God—we will find spiritual gain from the pain.  The cross gives us grace when we accept it and embrace it willingly, even with loving joy, for the good it does.  Without the cross—without the pain, struggles and difficulties of life—we would not grow as Christians.  We need suffering in order to be purified of our sin and freed from our over-attachment to created things so that we can be filled with divine love from above and grow in grace and virtue.  From this spiritual death and resurrection we are united to God ever more deeply and completely, to the only One who can satisfy our soul and make us whole in the end.  Baptism forgives original sin, Confession forgives personal sin, but the damage done by both of them still remains—a weak and wayward will, a murky and mixed up mind, disordered and unruly passions and appetites.  For the converted Christian, pain and suffering are the medicine of mercy that heals our soul of sin and its effects.  It may be a bitter pill, but the Doctor knows that it will heal and save our soul if we take it along with the food of doing God’s will. (John 4:34)

The cross is the remedy for fallen humanity.  It is the cure for sick souls.  If we throw away the cross, we throw away the medicine.  If we try to escape the pain through self-pity and anger, or puffed up pride and egotistical vanity, or self-indulgence in sinful pleasures, we lose the good that it would do for our own soul and that of others, at least to some degree, if not completely.  “The Cross is the way to paradise, but only when it is borne willingly.” (St. Paul of the Cross)  Jesus said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)  If we accept the cross in union with Christ Crucified (look at a crucifix) and carry it the best we can (even Jesus fell three times), we will be healed and purified of our past and present sins and grow closer to God, the goal of all things.  At the same time, we will also help others through the graces they receive from our suffering in union with Christ.  We will become more loving and forgiving, more compassionate and understanding and, together with every other virtue, we will grow in grace and union with God.

When the cross comes your way you can pray, “Yes, Lord, Your will be done.  Thank You for the pain that purifies my soul of sin.”  Then we will gain a spiritual reward from the Lord for with every cross there is a resurrection and “he who perseveres to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 24:13)


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