“Ave Crux, Spes unica!” “Hail to the Cross, our only Hope!” But what if our only Hope is forgotten? It seems many problems in the past 50 years can be seen in terms of forgetting the Cross.
Was there perhaps a time some decades ago when the Cross was pushed too much into the background, even in the Church? The Cross is but one aspect of the whole mystery of Christ and it can be overemphasized. But is it not much more underemphasized?
Forget the Cross, and people are less disciplined with sensual pleasures. Forget the Cross, and when Christian commitments become difficult, people lose their bearings and flee. Jesus’ love shown on the Cross, helps us in difficulties, to remain faithful to the end. We can then see difficulties as part of God’s plan, and suffering as salvific for the salvation of souls, when borne in love. If we are used to abiding with Mary and John at the pierced side of Christ-crucified, we can better catch our bearings and make sense of difficulties, and press on in faithfulness.
Forget the Cross, and marriages fall apart. Forget the Cross, and priestly life falls apart. Forget the Cross, and the world falls apart. We often need to return to the Cross, to inspire us in our self-giving love, to inspire us to be faithful to our commitments. And at the Cross, we receive the grace to do so, so the Cross can even become our joy. Blessed Conchita notes, “When there is love, thorns are turned into roses and crosses into pearls.”
God knows we tend to flee from the Cross on our own. We don’t like it. So, what tender love God shows us in giving us our Blessed Mother to be with us at the foot of the Cross! Mary sweetens even the Cross with her maternal caress.
Where is the Church to go in our own day? Where is the Church in her woundedness to go? I believe the answer is to the foot of the Cross with Mary, looking to the wounded heart of Jesus for our salvation. Where else can we turn? The Cross is our only Hope.
Mary, our sorrowful Mother, draws us to the Cross in a gentle and attractive way, to offer our lives there in union with Jesus, and for the salvation of souls. It is then that the victory of Christ’s Resurrection can take over in our lives, and spread throughout our world. It’s then that the power of the Holy Spirit can reign.
So on this Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we lift high the Cross, our only Hope. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” We lift high the victory of God’s self-giving love. And as St. Alphonsus Liguori says, “Conquered by His love, we will serve Him with love.”
So we exalt the victory of the Cross. We exalt the victory of the Cross over us. So “conquered by His love, we will serve Him with love.” Amen.