The Royal Road of The Cross

I originally posted this last year on Good Friday.

El Greco's: Jesus Carrying the Cross 1581
"Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few cross bearers.  Many desire his consolation, but few His tribulation.  Many will sit down with him at table, but few will share His fast.  All desire to rejoice with Him, but few will suffer for Him.

Many will follow Him to the breaking of the bread, but few will drink the bitter cup of His Passion. Many revere His miracles, but few follow the shame of his cross.  Many love Jesus when all goes well with with them, and praise Him when He does them a favor; but if Jesus conceals Himself and leaves them for a little while, they fall to complaining or become depressed."  from Imitation of Christ-Thomas A. Kempis Book 2, Ch.11:1 

Yesterday marked my 30th Good Friday; 30th simply because of my age.  For the first time in my entire life I had to work on this day; even though it was only for a half day I was still distressed.  You see I wanted to make this day special.  I wanted to commemorate Jesus' passion and suffering in a unique way.  I wanted to be there for Jesus, if not physically then at least in my heart and spiritually. I wanted to treat this day like I was going to a funeral for someone I loved.  I wanted the day to be solemn, sad, and dignified.  You see if this was an actual funeral then I wouldn't have had to work, it would have been understandable, I would have gotten the day off, but how can I expect my society, my culture, my country, my internship site to understand when Jesus is consistently, daily pushed aside in their day to day dealings.  But Jesus did honor my desire.  He was able to give me at least, however briefly the opportunity to partake in his sufferings spiritually...

As soon as I left my internship site I immediately sped to my parish, Holy Cross.  Even though I do not condone it I definitely sped hitting the 80 MPH threshold.  I wanted to be there early,  I wanted to get front row seats in the unfolding of Jesus' passion.  I did not want to be a Peter, I wanted to be a John.  I wanted to make my 30th Good Friday memorable.  I wanted to console Jesus.

Simon helping Jesus from movie The Passion of The Christ
Through my somewhat reckless speeding I was able to get to church early.  I decided to bring with me Thomas A Kempis' spiritual masterpiece,  The Imitation of Christ.  I had no plan in choosing what section to read.  All I did was continue from where I last left off, Book 2.  Wow, how the Holy Spirit worked, the two sections that I read both dealt with the cross!  The sections were appropriately titled,   "On the Small Number of The Lovers of The Cross" and "On The Royal Road of the Cross."  As I reflectively peered through these pages I was reminded anew of the terrible price that Jesus payed for my sins.  I did not think about the sins of the word; all I did was focus on my sins realizing that it was them that caused Jesus to suffer.  But despite my inward shame and guilt a strange consolation was beginning to engulf my being.  I realized somewhat joyfully that Jesus choose to suffer for me and if he had to do it all over again he would, just for me.  This thought greatly consoled me and brought me peace.

The highlight of the service came during the veneration of the Cross.   As Father brought the austere, large, unassuming, wooden cross in front of the altar I realized finally the time had come for me to console Jesus.  But it was not simple, you see I was very hungry since I had been fasting,  I was tired since I slept a little the night before,  I was impatient, and worse off my mind was preoccupied with every conceivable fear.  I was not at peace. I was in anguish.  I wanted to scream, I wanted to get out, I wanted to go home,  I wanted to run away from the cross.  Then suddenly it dawned on me that all of this inner turmoil was a gift from God.  He had honored my request to suffer for Jesus in a most beautiful and poetic way.  He allowed to feel however briefly, however weakly the poignant anguish of the cross.  He had honored my request; he allowed me to share in the suffering of Jesus.  Now I could finally say that I truly experienced a profound Good Friday.  My 30th Good Friday was truly memorable it was the day that I truly was able to console the Lord on that royal road of the cross.


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