I think that every baby who is born should have—instead of a hospital bracelet—a “cross bracelet” placed on his/her wrist. On the front of the cross his name could be engraved, and on the back of the cross could be engraved: “Sometimes I want to turn away…” I’m just “joking,” of course, but my joke contains a serious message. The cross is a central part of God’s plan for each of His children—not only the Cross of Christ, but also the cross that each of us shares with Him. It is also true that each person wants, many times, to turn away from his cross. Even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, called out in anguish to His Loving Father:
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Mt 26:39)
One of the beautiful gifts of union with our Sorrowful Mother, in union with Jesus, is that we learn (and are given the grace) to accept our crosses; and, in accepting them, we bear beautiful spiritual fruit, which we share with others.
When my daughter, Sofia, was first diagnosed with pervasive development disorder in 1993, I began to go to Eucharistic adoration two nights each week. I urgently needed that time with the Lord. One night I prayed from deep in my heart that the Lord would heal Sofia, and the Lord immediately responded with an image of a beautiful little silver cross laid on a small personal altar—a table with an immaculately white linen cloth on it. I knew immediately that the Lord was communicating that Sofia, with her disabilities—and also my suffering as her mother—was that beautiful little silver cross, which I had the gift to offer to Him. The image was deeply consoling to me, because it showed me in a profound way the great value of Sofia’s affliction, and of my own suffering with her. But, at the same time, it was not the response I wanted from Jesus. I wanted Him to take away the cross of Sofia’s disability. One of the greatest challenges of my spiritual journey has been to seek to accept that little cross and to “count it all joy.”
“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials…”
Prayer is the greatest joy, the sweetest fruit, of accepting that beautiful little cross—prayer growing in my heart and in my family. Once, when I was praying for Sofia because she was crying in pain and couldn’t tell me where her pain was, Mother Mary spoke to my heart and said, “Don’t just pray for her; pray with her.” So I started praying out loud, “Dear Jesus, please take away Sofia’s pain…” and Sofia (who speaks very little) surprised me by immediately beginning to pray with me, “Take away the pain, Jesus,” in a very heartfelt way, in a way that told me that she probably knows Jesus better than I know Him. Ever since that day, we pray together when she’s having any kind of distress, and often she spontaneously begins the prayer.
To me Sofia’s prayer is an infallible sign of Jesus’ presence with us.
One clear proof of Sofia’s extraordinarily close connection to Jesus occurred when she was a little girl, and she was going through a period of aggression. One time, after she had scratched me, I began praying very intensely to the Child Jesus for her, and she suddenly looked straight in front of her at a spot that only looked like air to me, and she said in an awed voice, “The Little Boy!” Thanks be to Jesus!
“Sometimes I want to turn away.
Then I hear you gently say,
‘Come to the Cross.
Come stand by me.
I who am your Mother
love you tenderly…”
(song “Come to the Cross”
by Annie Karto)
Question for Reflection: What is a “little cross” (that may seem like a big cross) that the Lord has given you? What joy (or fruit) have you received in learning to accept that cross?
Well, to tell a little bit about me, I’m on the pension because of a mental illness, but I’m so much better, as praying helps a lot. I spend my day doing housework, gardening, and going to Mass. I get my daily walk going to and from church. In my spare time I like reading anything that has to do with Jesus and praying, which I can’t go without; otherwise I could panic, or something along those lines. When I have more time, I’ll do the consecration, which I have the books to do (thanks for asking in one of your emails).
So I’m about to go to bed, but before that I’ll read the Bible. I don’t know what time it is over where you are, but goodnight....... We will speak again. May God bless you and your family with the tenderness of the Holy Spirit Amen..............
I am the 67 yr. old divorced mother of 10 grown children—8 boys and 2 girls—and the grandmother to 32 grandchildren. I ended up raising the youngest three sons alone, and it was difficult, as I had never even had a brother, and raising 8 sons was very different from being raised with a sister! However, I have to trust that I did the best that I knew how to do, given the circumstances.
Of the eight sons, two of the boys became heavily involved in the world of drugs…David was 45 this year and he will never get any older, as he was shot and killed in his own yard on April 23rd. He was a troubled man, but he was unarmed and shot in the back when the officers responded to a "domestic dispute" call that evening. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation immediately got involved, and the FBI was called in. Understandably, we are all deeply troubled over what has happened.
David suffered from cirrhosis of the liver and Hepatitis C plus a a hernia repair that had broken open and the opening grew larger and larger…But David’s physical issues, as serious as they were, did not define him. What did was the love that he showed to almost all that he came into contact with. His signature behavior was to throw his arms around everyone and kiss them on the cheek as he told them; "I love you, man," or "I love you, bro!"
And it didn't matter WHO you were, either…I'm thinking, in particular, of a few people that came up to me at the visitation on Friday night. The woman had known him for years and years, and he always comforted her when she talked to him. She said she would really miss him…
After I had thought back to his hugs and caring, another picture suddenly appeared in my mind that was as clear as day, and because it was totally unexpected, it had my undivided attention. It was of the crime scene, only in this case I was a spectator, and my eyes were not on David's body lying on the ground, but on his spirit that was radiating peace even as he stood there looking at the police officers in question. You see, David held absolutely no malice in his gaze. For whatever reason, he was totally at peace. Then it came to me. In scripture it says,
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." (I Corinthians 13: 1-3 NAB).
However, in the early morning hours when the apartment is quiet and still, I can see the scene again and again. I try to tell myself that he is finally out of pain, but every night, in my mind, I see his broken body on the ground and realize anew that he is bleeding to death there on the ground, alone. And the tears run down my face. The only comfort I have found has been in the arms of Our Blessed Mother. She grieves with me as she grieved for her Son all those years ago.
I have tried to give this whole situation to God, to “surrender” it, as this whole situation has been and continues to be one giant act of surrender, or at least it needs to be. I say needs to be because surrender implies a placing of the whole situation into the Lord’s hands without grabbing it away again and clutching it tightly to my breast as I relive the sorrow over and over.
Please continue to pray that I will be able to finally give it over into the Lord’s keeping, trusting that all that happens will finally be redeemed in the sovereign timing of the Lord.
I believe that this would be a good group for me as I would like to be of comfort to others who are struggling …And perhaps, in ministering to others I will finally find peace for myself.
Throughout my life I have carried many crosses; although it has been a single cross, for me it became many crosses. I know that the cross, whether it be small or large, is heavy; it hurts. It wounds; it draws from you tears and blood.
But when we look at Christ Crucified, without any guilt, our crosses shrink. If you dwell in the Sorrowful Heart of Mary, you experience the true pain of the Mother, her compassionate love. When you reflect and raise up your eyes to the Eternal Father to tell Him, “Let this chalice pass from me, but not my will, but Thine be done”…my experience has been that, when I share my cross in that way, I have obtained the greatest gifts from God: His caresses, His smiles, His love…and I have no doubt that the cross that is well accepted is the Cross of Christ—whether it is in the form of a child, an old person, a sickness, etc., it is God…Love your cross.
A little handmaid of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary,