The fourth sorrowful mystery of the Rosary is Jesus carrying His cross to Calvary. We are all called to carry our cross and I’ve been pondering what this means.
Crosses can come in many different shapes, sizes and types. Sometimes they are of a physical nature, others can be mental or spiritual. Maybe they are the bad habits or the sins we find ourselves confessing again and again. It may seem our crosses control us and we have no power over them. So how can one carry such a thing? Perhaps, like a journey, carrying a cross comes in stages.
As with any problem or issue, unless you acknowledge it, you can’t do anything about it. When we recognize the obstacle that keeps us away from God, we pick up that cross. Acceptance is the first step. For the longest time, my idea of carrying a cross was accepting it. I would say, “Okay God, you gave me this cross; I’ll carry it.” But it seemed I was just holding on to it and not progressing in my journey to God.
A cross is not something we do battle with, but a tool that can help us practice virtues. Embracing our cross is not about allowing ourselves to commit that sin and then confessing it. Rather embracing it is praying for help and guidance regularly, not just in the moment of temptation. It is identifying the virtue opposite that sin and praying for that. Just as Jesus fell carrying His cross, we cannot think that we can succeed without falling, and many more times than Jesus did. But just as God provided Jesus with the helping hand of Simon, Jesus wants to help us with ours. In our moments of weakness, when we are frustrated in our progress, we can take comfort in the response Jesus had for St. Paul in his struggles. “He said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection.’” (2 Corinthians: 12:9)
I am not at the point where I can boast of my weakness as St. Paul claims, but it is reassuring that someone so holy and amazing struggled like I do. And when I fall, Jesus is there extending His hand so I can rise, pick up my cross and carry on.