Friday, March 25, 2005

O Beautiful Cross!

by Fr. Marcial Maciel (translated from the Spanish)

O blessed Cross, that you, Lord have given me!
With her on my shoulders
I walk the days of my exile,
through the sorrowful way of my great suffering.
And with my head upon her I sleep
in the black nights of the solitude of my pain.
O Cross! my inseparable companion
during these sweet years of my suffering for God!

First I suffered you with patience.
Later I carried you with joy.
Today I embrace you with love . . .

O beautiful cross!
You brought yourself so far down
and nailed yourself to my body;
you have taken me to the greatest depth of my soul . . .
Is it possible that someday you could be separated from me?
And when you leave me, O my cross!
how could I live without you?

Thank you Lord,
because you have given me the cross.
And the cross you have given me
is already upon my shoulders.
And I want to follow you below this weight
in order to be worthy of you,
for the spirit is strong
but the flesh is weak.
But you know, Lord,
that everything is possible for him who believes;
and I trust that you will not deny me
the strength that I need
in order not to weaken in following your path.

* * *

This is one of many beautiful Spanish poems written by Fr. Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. I don't have an official copy or an official translation: I memorized it years ago and wrote it down in my journal before forgetting it again. But I dug it out for Good Friday, because it's so appropriate.

Fr. Maciel, for many years, suffered from extreme headaches. It became very hard for him to continue with his work as the General Director of the Legion. One time, in a meeting, his secretary began to realize that he was in pain, and started to whisper, "Hadn't you better go rest?" Fr. Maciel kept answering, "Two minutes more . . . two minutes more." He kept saying this every time his secretary asked, until the meeting was over. His work for Christ was far too important for him to call off because of his own personal suffering, but the only way he could get through it was to take it two minutes at a time.

This is such an enormous example for me. Yesterday I had a bad headache, and I kept using it as an excuse for everything I did wrong. I was cross with my three-year-old brother, and I thought to myself, "Well, I have a headache. It's not my fault." But then I realized that Joseph doesn't understand. He doesn't know what jet lag is. He doesn't understand what it means to have to adjust so quickly from college life to home life. Hopefully he has no idea what a headache is. All he knows is that his favourite sister is home, and he has been looking forward so much to playing with her. And how could I disappoint him by being so impatient?

The crosses God gives me, here and there, can be an occasion for me to show my own weakness (as I did yesterday), or an occasion for great grace and growth in holiness. If I accept my little crosses, I could become so much more like Christ, who carried a big cross.

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