This title seems confusing, if not outright contradicting itself. The cross is associated with pain, suffocating rules that take away freedom, and sometimes even acute depression. While it can be that, there is an almost paradoxical twist to taking up our cross daily to follow Christ. It makes me, at least, happy. This is not the world’s happiness like Christ told us about his peace being not of this world, but rather the joy of knowing that you are in a state of resonance with all reality and not dissonance.
Here are some crazy ideas presented for my consideration by the Holy Spirit during my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5). I share them with you. You make your own conclusions. Read these contemplative thoughts with the view that they contain treasures that you must unlock with your reason and free will.
THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKS
The default of human existence is about seeking pleasure, enjoyment, what makes you happy or feeling good. Enjoyment is not bad according to what the world suggests as much as it cannot fulfill the longing in your heart for the joy that only Christ can give. St. Augustine says that “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
When you were marked with the sign of contradiction, the cross, your world turned upside down. You accepted the mark of the cross on your soul, one that dictates that your life is one where you must deny yourself to find yourself. You deny those material things of the world that do not lead to resonance but rather dissonance. What you accept is the opposite of what the world teaches is the purpose of life.
Having human reasoning for a reason and the ability to choose what is good for you, there is a struggle to choose something that will truly fulfill your human nature, a way of life that, while on the surface it seems illogical and full of fairy tales, actually prepares you to live as you were created to be, as an adopted son or daughter of the Father. What was lost in Genesis in the Garden of Eden is redeemed by Jesus. Jesus had to be God to make reparation to the Father for the sin of the world.
Baptism takes away that sin, but we are still left with the consequences of living out each day with the struggle to transform our lives from our false selves to our true selves as redeemed by Christ. Each day, we are tempted to offer incense to the idols that the world says are important. The martyrdom of the ordinary is what you and I must endure as we await the next phase of our evolution, to live with Christ forever.
The martyrdom of the ordinary is the transformation of the ordinary events each day with the presence of Christ to fulfill your purpose as intended by your Baptism. It takes time to endure the boredom of human living or the martyrdom of ordinary existence. It is a martyrdom because to live as an adopted son or daughter, you must prefer nothing to the love of Christ (St. Benedict, Chapter 4 of the Rule).
All humans must ask and answer six questions that determine if their life is worth living, as Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen would say.
God gives us human reasoning and free will to choose what is right. The problem is we can’t answer those six questions authentically with the correct answers. Just living in the world won’t give us the correct answers, although we do get answers. It is just that the answers of the world are not powerful enough to lift us up to the next level of our evolution, to experience love forever based on the authentic choices we make during our short lifetime.
Jesus loved us so much that he became human just to give us the answers, so great was that love. (Philippians 2:5-12)
The martyrdom of blood is when someone tells you to offer incense to the false idol of yourself, and you say “No.” The martyrdom of the ordinary is when no one tells you to believe this or that, but you continue with your life doing what you always do. This can either be with Christ or without Christ.
Enjoyment of the cross comes with the silence and solitude of the heart as it just ponders Christ and waits for the Holy Spirit to overshadow them. Enjoyment of the heart comes from feeling Christ’s heart next to your heart and, even in the midst of the struggle to be spiritual each day, You don’t do anything to cause this joy. This joy comes from knowing, loving and serving God and others. Joy comes when you realize you are loved so much that you are given the keys to the kingdom of heaven, should you choose to use them.