An intrinsic part of our Christian culture that is hardly taken seriously nor understood in a healthy way is that of cross carrying in life. Jesus himself makes this clear in his instruction to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and to follow him (Luke 9:23).
To willingly take up a burden, an icon of shame and denigration is either counter-intuitive or counter-cultural or both. In an almost self-deprecating way, Catholics of old used to be proud of the way that they would carry a Catholic guilt in their lives, and wouldn’t even mind to be labelled as masochistic for it. Shades of this could be seen in feeling guilty when partaking excessively in forms of raucous revelry, perhaps nursing a vice like smoking gambling or unrestrained drinking, or even reading books which were on the Index. These days, however, the guilt pendulum has been swinging right to the other side where just about everything is deemed kosher and the narrative is “if it is scandalous, it has to be good”.
But how do we understand in some constructive way Jesus’ difficult instruction? I am quite certain that so many of us can readily identify the many crosses that we face in life. Some of us are even married to them for life! Naming these is not the problem. What can and should we do with them is the crux (pun definitely intended) of the problem.
James Martin, S.J., Jesuit priest and author and editor at large at America, The National Catholic Review, wrote a book entitled Jesus: A Pilgrimage. Here, he offered six bold and very practical and relatable ways in understanding how to face the challenges of daily cross bearing to help one to go deep in life.Read More »