In order to excite ourselves to love the Cross and to exalt it in our hearts, we will consider: 1st, how Jesus Christ loved and glorified it; 2nd, how ill it would become us not to love and glorify it. Our resolution shall be: 1st, cheerfully to accept any cross which may present itself to us, and never again to become impatient or be cast down by contrarieties and affliction; 2nd, to receive all the trials of life as particles of the Cross of Jesus Christ, and therefore to cherish and honor them, saying with the Apostle: “My glory is in the Cross” (Gal. vi. 14). These words will serve as our spiritual nosegay.
Let us thank Our Lord for having so marvellously exalted His holy Cross : 1st, through the piety of the Emperor Heraclius, who, after having taken it out of the hands of the infidels, carried it himself and placed it once more upon Calvary; 2nd, through the devotion of the Church, which celebrates annually this beautiful triumph in the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Let us beg of Him to exalt this Cross in our hearts by inspiring us with more esteem and love for it.
How Jesus Christ Loved and Glorified His Cross.
Nature does not love the Cross; even the mere sight of it makes it shudder. Jesus Christ, in order to correct this wrong disposition, showed Himself during His whole life to be a friend to the Cross; He constantly desired it (Luke xii. 50), and on the day which was to be the last of His life He lovingly embraced it; He took it on His shoulders, He Himself bore it to Calvary, He allowed Himself to be nailed upon it, and He died in its arms as on His bed of honor. Could He have better shown us how He loved it, consequently how amiable it is, since Eternal Wisdom cannot but greatly love what is superlatively amiable? After this first homage rendered to the Cross, He glorified it by means of the great things of which He made it the instrument. By the Cross, in fact, our sins are expiated and we are reinstated in grace; after having been the enemies of God through sin, we become His best friends; in the Cross we find the principle of Christian life, the teaching of all the virtues, the foundation of all our merits in this world and of our glory in eternity; the Cross is for us the warrant of the love of the Father, the characteristic and the seal of the predestinate (Rom. viii. 17). Who at the sight of so much glory would not esteem and love the Cross? Who would not feel it to be good, beautiful, honorable, and precious? (Office of St. Andrew.)
How Wrong it would be of us not to Love and Glorify the Cross.
1st. It would be doing an injury to the Cross; for it is not only by kissing or by embracing the crucifix that we honor the Cross, but much rather by receiving patiently and lovingly the thousand little trifles of life which are as so many particles of the Cross of the Saviour. If we fly from trouble, if we become impatient in the midst of annoyances, if we seek for content in pleasure and in ministering to our own comforts, it is a proof that we do not hold the Cross in esteem, that we do not desire it, and that it would give us pleasure if it would depart far away from us; it is consequently to dishonor it, to despise it, and to treat it as refuse. At the last day it will come to judge the world (Matt. xxiv. 30), and then the friends of the Cross will be as happy as those will be miserable who dishonor it, and who will have none of it. 2nd. Not to love the Cross is to insure our unhappiness even in this present life; for trials are inseparable from life here below, and if we do not resign ourselves and bear them patiently, if we give ourselves up to sorrow, to vexation, to heaviness, trials thus ill endured are incomparably more painful and the misery of them increased a hundred-fold. Looking at the matter from another point of view, we are unhappy even in the midst of what is pleasant, because all things here below being mingled with what tends to make us sad and discontented, he who does not love the Cross will never taste true joy and will be unhappy even in prosperity. Nor must it be forgotten that during the whole of our life, if we desire to be saved, we must mortify our temper, bring our passions into subjection, crucify our senses, resist temptations, fly from evil and do what is good. Now all these things are possible only on condition of striving and fighting against self. Now where there is no love of the Cross we become weary of these difficulties and these combats; we become melancholy, sad, and disgusted; we are unhappy. Ah! why do we not frankly love the Cross? We should then turn even these very troubles into causes of joy we should consider ourselves happy to be allowed to share the Cross of Jesus Christ and to drink of His chalice. Let us be confounded before God for having until now so little loved the Cross, and let us ask of Him grace to love it henceforth.
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