The most iconic symbol in all of humanity; the Cross. However, since its invention, it was the tool of great suffering and captial punishment for those who championed it.
Introduced by the Romans, in the beginning was used against those who could not prove they were not Roman citizens but later was to be used against theives and other
malefactors. "The punishment of the cross remained in force throughout the Roman Empire until the first half of the fourth century.
In the early part of his reign Constantine continued to inflict the penalty of the cross (affigere patibulo) on slaves guilty of delatio domini, i.e. of denouncing their masters (Cod. Th. ad leg. Jul. magist.).
Later on he abolished this infamous punishment, in memory and in honour of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Eusebius, Church History I.8; Schol. Juvenal., XIV, 78; Niceph., VII,
46; Cassiod., "Hist. Trip.", I, 9; Codex Theod., IX, 5, 18)." - Catholic Encyclopedia.
The Cross of Christ
Although we Christians see the crucifixion as the symbol of redemption and salvation, to the Jews was a curse. For according to the Jew, it was a great dishonor and
eternal curse for one to 'hang on a tree'[Galatians 3:13].
This of course meant not only to hang from the neck as though by noose but also by crucifixion. This was to further the purpose of the complete humiliation of Christ on the cross.
You must understand, that Jesus endured ALL forms of abuse for not only our flesh but more importantly our souls. We know of course that Jesus was not cursed due to the nature of His death but rather the exact opposite.
Our Lord went willingly to the Cross so that all MIGHT be saved [Colossians 1:20]. I said, "might"
because even Jesus knew that not ALL would benefit from His death and eventual resurrection [Mark 14:24].
The Joy of the Cross
Make no mistake about it, to be crucified is no joyful experience. So what can it mean that joy could possibly emenate from the torture device which is the cross? Simply put,
our Lord Jesus Christ told us without the cross, we cannot hope to know Him [Luke 14:27]. Jesus told us that if we are to follow Him, we must 'deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him daily'.
In other words, we all have troubles, fears, and pains but in order to be a disciple of Christ, you must face your problems while maintaining trust and obedience to the words
and instructions of Christ. But the 'crosses' in our life can be very painful to endure, how are we to bear them joyfully?
It is because to bear with your sufferings with patience and joy
for the sake of Christ is the path to salvation.
We are to recognize that all things that happen are permitted by God. However, it is not God's will that evil should happen so therefore God makes out of evil a greater good.
This is why the cross, a former horror to behold, is now because of Jesus Christ, the symbol of life and power over death [1 Cor.1:18].
The Stations of the Cross
As Catholics, we observe holy devotions to Jesus great sacrafice such as the Stations of the Cross.
This devotion, which is often prayed during the Liturgical Season of Lent, recounts
14 moments of Jesus' life during His Passion and Death.
We reflect on these things for the sake of piety and reverence for Him who died for us but also for petition that mercy may be given to those who meditate on Jesus' agony and death. In each Station, we recognize the horrendous suffering of Jesus, and depending on which version of the Stations, we also reflect on the sufferings of His mother, Mary.
To read the Stations of the Cross is simply not enough to fully participate in Jesus' holy sacrfice but rather to pray the Stations. The Stations of the Cross include:
1. Jesus condemned to death Mark 15:1-5, 15
2. Jesus is given his cross John 19:6, 15-17
3. Jesus falls the first time
4. Jesus meets his mother
5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross Mark 15:21
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus*
7. Jesus falls the second time
8. Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem Luke 23:27-31
9. Jesus falls the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments John 19:23-24
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross Luke 23:33-34
12. Jesus dies on the cross Luke 23:44-46
13. Jesus' body is removed from the cross
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb Matthew 27:57-60
The Sign of the Cross
We commit ourselves to holiness when we make spiritual contracts with our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why Catholics bless by making, what is known, the sign of the cross on their bodies.
In order to do this, it is customary to take the index and middle finger of your right hand and beginning with touching your forehead, and annoucing, "In the Name of the Father" then moving those same fingers to your belly, continuing, "...And of the Son" then to your left shoulder, "...and the Holy" then finally to your right shoulder "...Spirit". We honor God in such a way so as to ask for His blessings and graces to be able to increase in sanctity.
Many Catholics that pray this prayer often time may overlook the powerful statement being made, that what you are doing, you are doing IN THE NAME OF our Lord!
When you pray this prayer, recall the Blessed Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit so as to show the deepest love, reverence and piety as possible.
For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to die for it, so then how much more are we to not only bless ourselves but also carry our cross for the purpose of salvation?
Pray therefore with great diligence that you may live worthily with love in your heart for Christ and the sufferings necessary to sanctify you!
Jesus bless you!