The Carrying of the Cross
The unique aspect of the Carrying of the Cross, among the Sorrowful Mysteries, is the fact that it is a journey. In western culture today, we seem always to be rushing from one destination to another. The destination is important, but often we forget the importance of the journey itself. So what do we learn on this Journey of Journeys, a microcosm of every human being’s life path, in addition to the grand historical path of all humanity, the Via Dolorosa?
Like any journey, this one involves a series of events. Holy Scripture confirms for us that Christ carries His own Cross. Tradition tells us He falls three times under its weight. Scripture tells us He becomes so weak, Simon of Cyrene must take up the Cross. Our Lord speaks to some sorrowful women and Saint Veronica wipes His Holy Face, a miraculous image resulting. So here we have four basic events: the Taking Up of the Cross, the Fallings, the Giving Up of the Cross and the Message. All sealed with a miracle.
Tremendously weak after the brutal Scourging, Jesus takes the Cross upon His shoulders and begins to walk the Way of Sorrow. The One who is sinless takes on the burden of all humanity's sins, soon to be expiated on this very Cross He carries, when He arrives at the destination. This is an example of courage for us, when we feel terribly burdened by life's difficulties. We know He walks before us always. It is not so remarkable that He falls three times under this heavy piece of wood. What is remarkable, is that He gets back up two times to continue carrying it. But the third time, He is all out of strength. The Almighty God makes Himself weak so that we can be strong. Another example and profound encouragement for His children. When we fall, when we break-whether through suffering or temptation, all is not lost. There is always hope for those who trust in God. He will give us the strength to go on. And just as Simon was provided to take the Holy Cross from His hands, He too, will take our own crosses from us when the time comes. We are asked only to trust.
When Our Lord addresses the "Daughters of Jerusalem" who are following Him on this Journey, He gives us a glimpse into His very mind as He carries the Cross. He is thinking not of Himself on His final journey as He goes to His death. He thinks only of us, only of humanity's final journey at the end of time. "Weep not over Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: Blessed are the barren and the wombs that have not borne and the paps that have not given suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains: Fall upon us, and to the hills: Cover us." This is a message to humanity-a warning, an End Times marker, reiterated by Saint John in Apocalypse. Is it possible that He was describing our own times?
Every human life is similarly, a journey-some very short, some long, some privileged, some full of suffering. But in the end, it all evens out-all is fair, all is just. And upon each and every precious human life for which Christ suffered, lies the imprint of the Carrying of the Cross. It is our joy, our hope, our consolation. He did it all for us. Good Jesus, give me strength when I begin to weary beneath my own crosses, that I may go on to reach that final destination, where Thou Art, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the Glorious Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.