We have our backs bent from carrying our crosses for a good part of our lives. Bent from carrying the crosses of others too. Bent from stoicism. Bent from sorrow.

Diego Rivera: The Flower Carrier (1935)

Diego Rivera: The Flower Carrier (1935)

But what kind of cross do we have on our backs?

“…….we have allowed distractions, self-absorption, anxiety, the endless pursuit of pleasure—in a word, worldliness—to enter our hearts. The irony is that we carry these things upon our shoulders like a cross—but it is the wrong kind of cross. The Cross of the Christian is meant to be the cross of self-denial, not self-seeking.” ~ Mark Mallet,

When a friend abuses our trust and friendship, when someone we trust lies about us, or cheats us of what little we have, and we are left feeling bereft and angry, do we flee to the Lord or do our feet trace a resolute path elsewhere?


Hours of slaving over a project only to have it dismissed or caustically appraised. Years of struggle to keep a marriage going, and facing its death, nevertheless. The golden child who finds later years comfort in drugs.

What do we do?

Do we drown our sorrows in the bottle, try to discern our future in the wine dregs in our glass? Do we bow our heads in embarrassment, shame, and withdraw from society? Or paint a smile on our faces, project false cheeriness because no one needs know the depths of our loss and shock?

by Pablo Picasso

by Pablo Picasso

When the church we trust becomes something we do not recognize.


          Do we turn our backs on her, for it is she who owes us, and there is no reason for us to try to help her? Do we ignore her wounds, inflict more, even, because we cannot accept that we are the Church, and if she bleeds, so do we, and by that token, if we bind Her wounds, we bind ours as well? Does the hurt and betrayal keep us anchored to the dark swells of fury, well away from the bleeding hand of our own body and soul begging for help?

What kind of cross do we have on our backs?

Whenever we get petulant and want some extra hours to wallow in the quicksand of our making, when dark comfort is what we seek in the welter of poison emotions, we hoist on our back a cross that is no cross. When we reject the path He has set for us, whenever we rush past His waiting form, rebuffing a love bought with blood, we choose for ourselves a yoke like no other.


We chaff under its weight. We struggle to straighten up and move on. We bang on the doors of Heaven, and when we do not feel its give beneath the weight of our anguish, our anger explodes against God.

And yet, it’s not His Cross that we carry.

It’s not the Cross He chose for us.

Too often, we break beneath the weight of a cross we selected for ourselves when we rejected His.

But our pride and pain blind us to the truth – that for every grief that comes to us, we get to choose our cross.


And if it’s with humility, obedience and faith that we choose His Cross, He carries it with us, for He is Love.



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