Does anyone besides me seem to be given extra crosses, struggles, or temptations during holy week? If I think about it, I usually do. It may be I’m just more aware of them during this time as I am reminded of Jesus and His passion and cross. An almost fight with my husband reminded me of Jesus’ crucifixion, specifically those sufferings that were beyond the physical torture we saw him endure. I think they are just as important to remember during this week.
My fighting words that were deflated by mercy
This week I became very overwhelmed and took it out on my husband and dog with some harsh “fighting” words and the unleashing of what my mother always called “my Italian” (my temper) – I know poor sweet thing – both of them 😉 And fighting words – we all have them. It’s the really good ones that express EXACTLY how you feel in the moment but always lead to a fight – especially when fighting an Irishman who never steps down when challenged 😉
Love, forgiveness, and mercy
My dog always forgives me. She always loves me. She has the sweetest nature of anyone I know. I am not always this blessed with my husband – and rightly so. I don’t deserve to be let off the hook for everything (I guess that is right…). I really didn’t deserve to this time. I was pretty mean – Oh I’m pregnant right now so add irrational, difficult to talk to, because of crazy hormones or exhaustion, to this situation.
I prayed really hard this time. I apologized and begged Jesus to heal my husband and not let my words and frustration over the day ruin his. Then I let it go as best as I could, and let God handle it.
You know what happened? My wonderful husband didn’t even seemed bothered by what I thought was certainly round one of a fight – that I started no less. When I apologized he said, “It’s ok. Hey it happens to everyone. You, ok?” And I was. I was so grateful it didn’t bother him, that I could move on, and that we avoided a fight. He even cleaned the house for me the next day, walked the dog, and took our little one out on a mini field trip so I could be less frustrated and have a break. My husband displayed for me the perfect example of how we can follow Jesus and love Him by loving others – thanks, honey!
The most difficult cross to bear isn’t physical
What I was most grateful to avoid the loneliness of discord between us. For me, one of the hardest trials to bear in marriage is being separated from my husband – on any level; physical, emotional, spiritual.
Conflict is a necessary part of marriage for without it, couples can’t learn how to work together and love each other. It makes a marriage, creating a strong, secure foundation of trust to lean on, or it can crush the couple (and that is putting it mildly). We all either see this by witnessing those around us or know this through our own experiences.
It’s a paradox. In fact, it is exactly the same paradox as Jesus’ cross and crucifixion. Husbands and wives take on pain and suffering out of love to renew their vows for each other and give new life – both to their marriage as a couple and physically in having children. The only difference in comparison is that Jesus took on the cross all at once. Married couples do a little here and there everyday over the course of many years. The results are the same – unity and new life (both in the spiritual sense as one couple, and physically if they are blessed with children).
*Side note: an excellent read on marriage is Bishop Fulton Sheen’s Three to Get Married. It offers a detailed yet practical explanation of what Catholic marriage is – a cross (It sounds funny but it is true!)- and the beauty that comes from the fruit of the sacrifices made within it.
The importance of the crosses beyond the crucifixion
I see the paradox of the importance of bearing the cross in this situation and am reminded that Jesus suffered much more than the horrific physical torture we see in the crucifixion.
The loneliness, humiliation, and temptation to doubt (He completely trusted and knew perfectly what he was doing, but he was still tempted as the rest of us).
On top of all of this, He had to watch His mother watch His suffering, which He knew very well was as great as His own. It’s why the intercession of Mary is so important. She, like Jesus, has great compassion for us because she, like Christ, understands through experience. This is also why the intercession of specifically Our Lady of Sorrows is so powerful, and we should reflect on her this week as well. I could go on about her, but that will have to be another blog post sometime. *Another Fr. Chad Ripperger talk I really enjoyed on Our Lady of Sorrows here. I have written about his website and sermons here. I have reflected on devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows here.
We still see Him suffer in other ways all around us
What I am especially reminded of this week is that he still suffers. He is still present here with us and he is still ignored, humiliated, ridiculed, denied. He is still present among us and He still thirsts. Blatant examples are all those who do not believe in Him, or indifferent to His words and teachings. Less obvious are all those sitting in church Sunday after Sunday. Those going through the motions. Saying the prayers, and yet their hearts are distracted. They are not with Him as he suffers in front of them in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Let us try this week to not let our own distractions and selfishness, and even to some capacity our feelings of guilt, get in the way of realizing just how gracious He is. How even the smallest gesture toward Him of honest love and kindness He looks kindly on – and that is goes doubly so for the most hardened of sinners.
Holy week is a time to recognize our failings, hand them over with humility and love to Jesus, who will make new through the grace and hope that comes only through His sacrifice and the spilling of His Most Precious Blood. This is why Easter is a time to rejoice! After this week we no longer think of the cross, but the victory He has achieved for us out of his love and compassion for us. We, like my gracious husband did this week, are to bear the cross, accept mercy, and move on to new life. Alleluia!
A reverent Holy Week and a Happy Easter to you and your families!