Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop

Luke 14: 27: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

It is remarkable how often Christians, both East and West, make the “sign of the Cross.” It is most obvious in any Eastern liturgy. But in the West as well, any faithful Catholic will often make the sign of the Cross – especially in times of temptation. We have a faith in that sign which is so profound, so penetrating, it borders on the edge of superstition, magic. Of course, things supernatural have something of magic to them, to be sure. But we can abuse the “sign of the Cross” if all it is a sort of gesture we make to ward off evil.

That is because the “sign of the Cross” is a statement, a commitment, to personally, intentionally share in the Cross of Jesus. It is a reminder to ourselves – and to all around, “men and angels” – that we have chosen to be crucified to the world, and the world to us. It is a saying: “I have been baptized into the death of the Lord, that I may rise with Him. And so, I will to unify myself with the Master in His life-giving passion and death.”

Have you identified your Cross? Of course, we do well devoutly to kiss the Cross in Church.  And it is good and holy to “cling to the old rugged Cross.” But it is far more penetrating to look at the difficulties in my character, my relationships, my life situation, and find the Cross there. And then, to embrace that Cross, even as did Jesus who “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” (Heb. 12:2) The world, the flesh, the devil want us to be “winners in life’s game.” Jesus invites us to be losers, with Him in this world – so that we may win Heaven. And that is no game.

November 4th, 2015