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Embracing the cross

First slide

Back in October, I was at St. William of York in Stafford for a wedding. I arrived early in order to make a holy hour, something I have done at this particular church many times as it is my home parish. But even though I’ve spent a lot of time there, something struck that I had never noticed before.

The crucifix in the church is wooden and not painted. All the parts of the crucifix — from the cross itself, to the sign over Jesus’ head, to the body of Our Lord — seem to blend together since they are made of the same material and color. Unlike many crucifixes where the body leans away from the cross, the body of Our Lord on this crucifix is entirely connected to the cross at every single point. As I was looking at this cross, it hit me that this sculpting wasn’t accidental, but rather was designed to teach something beautiful about the faith. Our Lord embraced his cross completely. He didn’t pull away, but rather embraced every square inch.

At the wedding Mass, the homily spoke of how the goal of each individual’s life is to spend eternity in heaven in union with the trinity. The celebrant mentioned how we can only enter heaven when have been perfected in charity. He said we are perfected in charity by means of our vocation. It was at this point that my prayer while looking at the cross took on an even deeper meaning.

Every vocation has its unique cross. This cross will be heavy. There will be times where the pain will be excruciating. But it is for this reason, for this cross, that each of us is called to a particular vocation. I used to think that it was the beauty of the individual vocation to which we were called, but I always found this personally confusing. After all, I always have been greatly attracted to both the beauty of marriage and the beauty of the priesthood. But the beauty of one’s vocation exists in order to give us the strength to pick up that vocation’s cross. It is the cross to which we are called, the cross that perfects us.

As I progress through Theology II here at seminary, and pray about my vocation in a concentrated way, my October prayer about the cross comes back to me time and time again. As my discernment continues, it has brought me great peace to realize that I am attracted not only to the beauty of the priesthood, but more importantly, to the cross that comes with it. Like Our Lord on that crucifix, I desire to completely embrace the cross that lies in store for me, not pulling away from it even an inch. After all, it will only be through this cross that I may be made perfect in charity and one day enter into eternal life.

Reuwer, who is from St. William of York Parish in Stafford, is in his second year of theology  at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019