This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my might. The bitter truth is this: I really don't want to die. But there's no getting around it. Following You means dying.
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - The 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
"When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:33-34
"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last." Luke 23:44-46
The fruit of the mystery is faithfulness to God.
This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my might.
The bitter truth is this: I really don't want to die.
Will I walk with You along this distressing road only to shrink in fear when the final moment comes? Lord, You know that is exactly what I do, time and time again. My spirit may be willing, but my flesh is so weak. I start out well enough and I pray "not my will, but Thine" because I love You. But then the choice comes, and I stop short of the dying. I choose to spare myself. human instinct kicks in. But in sparing myself, I lose my life.
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." Luke 9:23-24
Clearly, there's no getting around it. Following You means dying.
It means the death of my own will; in small choices, in big decisions, in little ways, in old habits. It means relinquishing my right to myself, over and over again, day after day.
What does a heart really sound like when it has died to itself? It sounds like this: "I am at His disposal - He can do with me just as it pleaseth Him, without even a thought of consulting me. I just want to be His own little one - if He so wants, otherwise I will be happy to be just nothing and He everything."
How does a face look when the self has given up its rights? Like this: "Take whatever He gives and give whatever He takes with a big smile."
Those are the words of Your faithful servant, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. She put hands and feet to those words every single day while privately enduring the darkest interior pain. Is that kind of faithfulness within my grasp?
I am most definitely not Mother Teresa. My vocation is quite different, but the call is the same: take up my cross and follow Jesus. I'm still being called to die.
Today, my dying looks a lot like the mundane, thankless, routine tasks that I have no motivation to accomplish. Dying is me practicing patience and kindness; dying is being faithful in little things. Dying is me forgiving the one who has hurt me - really forgiving; no grudge, no animosity, no hope of vindication; just release.
Dying is me, freely and generously, choosing someone else ahead of myself. Dying is making a sacrifice that hurts, and doing it with a full heart, asking nothing in return.
The blessed contradiction is that dying is victory. Dying is freedom from all that frightens me. When I die to myself, it's my fear that's burned to death, and real faith rises out of the ashes.
With You, there is only life. Even death can no longer harm me because Your wondrous cross has rendered it void and powerless.
You held nothing back. You willingly gave it all so that I could have abundant life. I desire that kind of faithfulness, Lord! Teach me to give my all, even in little things, and withhold nothing. Grant me the courage to carry my cross and submit to the dying it asks of me, and then I will live...truly live.
Jennifer Hartline is a grateful Catholic, a proud Army wife and mother of four precious children (one in Heaven). She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit her online at My Chocolate Heart.
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