|Painting by Eustache Le Sueur|
One thing we can be certain of is that no one in this world is without a cross to bear. Even for those whose crosses do not appear to be very difficult to bear, the cross can be hard to accept if not carried with the right spirit.
Some say that God gives us the cross sized just right for us. Others say that we only have to carry a sliver of our cross because Jesus is carrying the brunt of it.
Either way we choose to look at the weight of our personal cross, we will find that our cross can be carried without complaint, and even with joy, when we do it for God. When we accept our cross for love of God, we are then carrying our crosses by uniting our sufferings with Jesus' sufferings. We are not focusing on our pains and problems. We instead have a more nobler purpose for the hardships that come our way. We are also resigning ourselves to accept God's will for us in everything. Be it good or bad, we accept. Like St. Francis de Sales taught his spiritual children, through the inspirational teachings in Spiritual Combat, we neither request nor reject.
I have a very good friend. She is in fact, my best friend and one of my oldest friends. We can always count on each other for support and unconditional love. This friend has had to bear very painful crosses in her life. Just to give you a few examples, she had to bear the pain of an abusive and unfaithful spouse, a divorce and the nightmare that every parent fears, the death of her child, the only daughter in the family.
As devastating as the last cross was for my friend, she never blamed God, never complained but in her extreme sadness, she accepted it. It has been at least five years since the girl's death, and even though she is still sorely missed by her mother, her mother instead has turned to God for solace and answers to her daughter's untimely death.
To me, my friend is a very holy person. She is far from perfect, like the rest of us. Yet, in her simplicity, she accepted God's will for her.
I was listening to an interview on EWTN the other day. It was Father Stan Fortuna telling this story. It seemed that a priest or cardinal approached Pope John Paul II for counsel as the priest in question was in terrible physical pain. Pope John Paul II lightly slapped the priest's forehead and told him not to waste his suffering.
What an example! We should all learn that lesson well.
I do not believe there will ever be a person who enjoys the crosses God gives them, not even a saint would enjoy the crosses of their lives. But we can embrace our crosses in a different way, in that we may be embracing Christ Himself and offering Him the comfort He did not receive from anyone during His Passion.