Pick up your cross! Only there is true joy! (video)

This video - embedded a bit lower in this post - from Fr. Barron really struck me (Seriously, watch it, it's awesome!).  Not only is it well done and has a great sound track, but it also "throws down the gauntlet" of Christianity - that Christ crucified is the epitome of happiness and freedom!  This isn't an easy message - much of the modern world has rejected it - but it is the message of Christ.  That giving oneself completely to God and to others isn't bondage and isn't sorrow, that laying down one's life isn't a loss but a gain.  Folks, this isn't obvious or easy!  The crucifix shows us a man brutally - unthinkably - tortured and murdered, yet that is the sign of our victory, it is in that image that our hope truly lies.  During Lent we are called to unite ourselves - at least in a small way - with Jesus' cross; to pull some of those planks out of our own eyes, to pluck those things out of ourselves that keep us away from Our Lord, to eventually pick up our own cross and follow after Him.  Why?  This seems counter-intuitive.  I don't know about you, but some of those planks are enjoyable and - let's face it - the cross is hard.

Some times I have wondered why Jesus got up after each fall.  Think about it, if you were dragging this heavy cross - the torture device that you are destined to die on - through the windy, steep, cobblestone streets of ancient Jerusalem towards the hill on which you were to be nailed to it so that you would die in indescribably agony, why would you get up once it crushed you into the street?  What pain could the soldiers inflict that would convince you to move, to heave that wooden monstrosity once more onto your back, to begin moving again?  You're just going to die at the end of it all anyway, why not die here?  Of course, the answer is love.  Jesus got up those three times and continued on out of love for you, and love for me.  It must have taken supernatural strength to lift that cross again and again, that supernatural strength is love.  God gives us that same supernatural grace!  Of course, we aren't God and man, like Christ - but God calls us to the same destiny, the same total gift of self, the same unpopular, sometimes painful, apparently difficult task.  Will we die in indescribable anguish on a cross? - probably not.  However, by allowing us the chance to unite our crosses, our struggles, our falls with His, Our Lord offers to unite His resurrection with us.  The only way to the Resurrection is through death on the cross.  The only way that Christ can accept us into Heaven saying "well done, good and faithful servant" is if we were good and faithful.  Both are difficult - being good means following the commands of Christ, being faithful means sticking with Him through all life's difficulties - but both are worth it and both are possible.  Worth it, obviously, because we will spend eternity in complete bliss with God in heaven.  Possible because God pours into us the grace of His love (especially in the Eucharist).  

We must not avoid the cross!  As Fr. Barron proclaims, in the cross is our happiness and our freedom.  Not only in that on the cross Christ bought us freedom from sin and death, and made the happiness of heaven available to us, but the cross in our own lives - the struggles we encounter in life, the planks we have to pull from our eyes, the sins that we must wrestle with, the world that unceasingly opposes living a life centered on Christ - also allows us true happiness and freedom.  Both go together: true freedom leads to true happiness, and true freedom is only found when we have eliminated those addictions, those struggles, those things that keep us from being the person we are really supposed to be.  

We talked today in class (philosophical themes in Catholic authors) about how all ethics eventually boils down to being based on teleology (man using his intellect and will to become who he is supposed to be) or pleasure/pain (man subordinating his intellect to passions, becoming a person who strives only after pleasure).  Of course, the first route is the one shown and given by Christ - us finding that the short term pain of the cross (and everything that goes along with it) leads in the long term to true happiness.  The second route is the one proclaimed by the devil - just eat the apple, make yourself like God; just do what makes you feel good - and it will lead to destruction because inherently we are made for more.  We are made to become sons and daughters of God! 

St. Augustine was right when he said "our hearts are restless until they rest in you [God]".  Folks, no earthly thing, activity, position, past-time, or power will make us truly, perfectly, infinitely, and eternally happy - that happiness can only come from God.  He gives us the model (Christ crucified), the strength (His grace), the reward (happiness with Him), and the freedom to choose - and then He leaves it up to us.  Christ doesn't force us to follow Him, after all His hands are nailed to the cross, but He begs us, He yearns for us, He died for us, so that we could do just that.  God knows where we will be most happy and He became one of us not only to make that happiness available to us but also to show us how we can reach it.   

As for me, bring it on!


  1. Awesome! Great post and really encouraging! Thanks! I love it when people talk about who we are Supposed to be, who we are Destined to be (sons and daughters of God). I've just been discovering that over the past months and it is so awesome! It's great that God has taught you this stuff through your classes and that you're putting it out there and letting people know. Good job, keep it up! Again, thanks! A.M.

    1. Thanks for the enthusiastic thankfulness! Know of my prayers, have a blessed and happy Easter!