On September 14th the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. We read in the Second Reading from Today’s Mass, from Paul’s Letter to the Phillipians:
Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Because of His humility in accepting a horrific death He was exalted by God, and all who wish to follow Him must likewise accept whatever crosses that are bestowed upon them. This is a central belief in Christianity, that accepting suffering is honorable and necessary and essential for what Christians call “successful” and “normal” .
Note that this differs strongly from what the world refers to as “successful” and “normal”. Christianity, and especially Catholicism, offers the only real explanation for suffering (Original Sin, read Genesis 3) and offers the only real solution (acceptance). Others deny it or avoid it and the world tells you that you should take something or do something to eliminate it. This is why we drink and drug, and why perhaps some of us abuse said drink and drugs.
We find our victory in the Cross of Christ. On His Cross, death was destroyed forever, inasmuch as it will never again keep us out of Heaven. We can still reject God and Heaven, but that’s another issue. If we follow God’s will as best we can, guided by the Church and the Holy Spirit, we will eventually find our union with God for all eternity.
The suffering that we endured while drinking and recovering we nail to the Cross of Christ. We unite our sufferings to His. As He destroyed death, so too will we achieve our victory over whatever we are addicted to.
This is the contradiction of the Cross, that in apparent defeat and death, victory and life are achieved. We had reached the nadir of our life when we hit our bottom, and reached that point where we thought that if we continue to drink we will die, but if we stop we may only think we will die.
But somehow we pulled ourselves up (or more than likely had help) and sought to live. Our old selves were crucified, and we arose in a resurrection of sorts and in some manner unique to our abilities bring the hope of our sobriety to others.
Nail it to the Cross. Whatever it is that is disturbing you or keeping you awake at night. Look upon a crucifix (a cross with Jesus’ body hanging from it) and regard that as your hope. For it is. Without the Death and subsequent Resurrection of Jesus we would all be barred from Heaven. Protestant Christians prefer crosses without the body of Christ on it, claiming that the victory has been won in His Resurrection. This is only partly true. But you cannot have the Resurrection without the Crucifixion. Good Friday comes before Easter Sunday on the calendar.
Without the suffering, there is no living.
The Holy Cross of Christ, with Him on it, is the symbol of our hope. It is our reminder that our sufferings will end, that they have merit, and will lead to our own victory.
Nail it to the Cross. Gaze upon the Cross of Christ and hope.
From the Gospel from today’s Mass:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.
That Cross is our sign that we will not perish.