EVERY CROSS HAS ITS STORY

Every cross that we bear in this life has an intimate story attached to it. Pain, hardships, loss, and failures are things that we cannot escape in this life. Yet, there is something redeeming in crosses that is hard to understand other than through clinging to the cross of Jesus. As St. Paul tells us, the Cross of Christ is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. The cross as a symbol of triumph defies human logic.  Yet, we know whether through the scriptures speaking to us or experiential knowledge, Jesus’ cross becomes a fountain of every flowing grace if we allow it. 

For my wife and I, crosses in our marriage have physically filled our house as our family has grown and drawn closer to Christ. As we have slowly, reluctantly, yet continually let go of our trust in the world, the cross has become ever more present to us. Since day one of our marriage, we have received crosses as a gift to fill the home, and we have endured the crosses of marriage. 

The first cross we received was one from our wedding. It was a decorative metal cross, simple in design. There was no corpus of Christ on it. Neither of us particularly liked it,  but we needed to fill an empty space on the wall of our bathroom in our apartment so it went up. In many ways, this cross was like our relationship with God in our marriage. We were practicing Catholics in ministry, but our faith was not the driving force in our relationship. It was certainly a commonality and a priority, but more utility than a driving force…kinda like a bathroom. 

When we moved into our three bedroom, one bath house, the bathroom cross followed and took its rightful place across from the commode. Yet, it was my desire to fill the other four rooms with crosses (three bedrooms and the living room).  It was never a priority, but I was always on the lookout for a crucifix. 

As I started my job as a youth minister, the previous one had left a wooden crucifix from the Holy Land in the office for me. When I left that job to become a full time teacher, I took the cross with me, and we placed it in our son’s (our first child) room. It was during this time that God started to reveal my prideful approach to ministry. As a religion teacher dealing with students every single day, my trust in myself over God became evident. My cross became a slow dying to myself, and turning to sacred scripture. 

After a couple of years, the next crucifix received was given to my wife. Her mother was going through their old things, and she had found my wife’s dainty first communion cross. We were now expecting our second (a girl), and it seemed fitting to hang it in her nursery. It was also during this time period that my wife struggled with anxiety. It was a cross that challenged both of us in our marriage and as parents. 

Another couple years passed, and my wife’s grandmother passed away. After the funeral my wife received the crucifix that was placed on the casket during the funeral service. This crucifix found a place in our bedroom. It was also during this time that my wife and I started to work through problems that had laid dormant throughout our marriage, and God started to move from priority to centerpiece.

As life does, in the next couple years we had major life changes, yet the main room in our house (the living room) there was still no crucifix. I expressed many times my desire for a large crucifix (no less than 2 feet) to be present, however we could never seem to find the right one online or in stores. So I prayed for one. It is a funny thing how as we get closer to Christ, we no longer avoid the cross, but rather pray for one. This cross I was praying for was a physical representation of that. As a family, we had grown closer to God. No longer did we wait around for crosses to come, we desired the cross. It was in this time period that I quit my job for the sake of the family, and we all took a leap of faith in trusting God to provide if we sought His Kingdom. In addition, God started tearing down our trust in entertainment and screens and turned our attention towards Him. Just as we bore that cross, our physical cross appeared (no less than two feet tall!) gifted to us by my best friend who just happened to offer it to us (I may have accepted it too eagerly). 

Our family certainly is not perfect and still has a long way to go on its journey towards heaven, but we are a family that strives each day to pick up our cross and follow the Lord. With visual reminders in every room given to us at various moments of our journey of sanctification, we have been abundantly blessed with trials. The wisdom of the cross is confounding. It does not make sense. But it is true wisdom if instead of running from the crosses, we cling closer to them in love.

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SPIRITUALITY & DEVOTION

At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

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