The paradox of the cross — joy in the midst of sorrow

The Cross is the great paradox of Christianity. More than a few people have asked me over the years why the Catholic Church focuses so prominently and persistently on the Crucifix.

One inquirer even suggested that the Crucifix hanging above the Altar is too intense a reminder of the sorrow in the world and that she would never join a church that displayed a sign of such cruel violence.

Today, we begin Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion and we are again reminded of this paradox.

Mass begins differently today. The gospel account of Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem by Jesus is proclaimed from the doors of the Church.

After the other readings, the Passion Narrative from Mark’s gospel is proclaimed. From cheering crowds to insane hatred and attack, what are we to make of this?

Vale of Tears
Catholics are taught that we are pilgrims in this “vale of tears.”

The Salve Regina includes the words, “To thee [Mary] do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.”

Again, the inquirer might ask, “Why would I want to join up with a bunch that is so pessimistic about life?”

To be sure, this life on earth is filled with hardships, pain and suffering. Who among us has not suffered?

Looking back over my life, I can recall numerous occasions of pain. My earliest memories of pain involved occasions of embarrassment as a very young child; the events do not count for much now, but at the time, mortification would not have been too strong a word to describe my feelings.

There followed all of the normal moments of discomfort that can be expected to be experienced by a child and young teenager growing up in an affluent country.

Real suffering and loss had not yet arrived; no hunger, serious illness or homelessness… but I would come to be greatly affected by death. Continue reading

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™.

Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: , , ,